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We, the undersigned representatives of African civil society, express our deep concern regarding efforts by the European Union and France to hijack the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), an African-owned and African-led initiative endorsed by all 55 African Heads of State to scale up renewable energy on our continent.

AREI was launched by the African governments with the support of African citizens during COP21 in Paris, with the goal to provide at least 10 billion watts (10GW) of new and additional renewable energy to Africa’s peoples by 2020, and put the continent on course to add at least another 300 GW and achieve universal access to energy for all Africans by 2030.  It was supported by $10 billion in pledges for 2015-2020 by developed countries in Paris.

AREI as defined in its framework, principles and work plans is a unique initiative. It is aligned with our values of people-centred approaches, community rights, equity and a bold vision of Africa taking a global lead towards flourishing societies powered by clean, renewable energy.

Since Paris, an Independent Delivery Unit was set up to deliver in accordance with AREI’s people-centred principles and approaches. The expectation was that a Board with Heads of State representing each African sub-region would be established, supported by a technical committee involving broad representation and participation by civil society

AREI’s integrity and promise of bringing light and energy to Africa’s people is now being gravely threatened by the efforts of the European Union and France for premature, undue approval of ‘their’ projects and seeming attempts to co-opt the initiative to serve their ends, supported by a small handful of Africans.  At a Board Meeting convened in Conakry on 4 March, we understand the European Union and France have:

§  Publicly “announced the preparation of 19 new renewable energy projects, with a total potential investment of €4.8 billion” (EU press release 4 March) – when they are actually claiming to provide a mere 1/16th or €0.3 billion of this amount, not all of which is for “new projects” or even for “renewable energy”, and with no clarity whether any of these are “additional’” efforts.                                                                                                        

  • Managed to have rammed through the Board for adoption these partly EU-funded projects, despite the express objections from some African countries and institutions, and contrary to the principles of African ownership that would expect project priorities and proposals to stem directly from African countries
  • Ignored and bypassed AREI’s own evaluation process in accordance to its criteria – developed with African and northern government, civil society and other stakeholder inputs. These require all projects be assessed in line with AREI social, environmental, gender and other principles and safeguards before any approvals can be made
  • Claiming Board memberships when they seem to have only been invited to the meetings (AREI minutes of the first inaugural board on 29 January) and contrary to the idea there should be one developing and one developed non-African country in the Board.
  •  Pushed for the imposition of EU technical experts to supposedly take control of AREI core documents to be consistent with European interests

All the above seems to have caused the Head of the Independent Delivery Unit, a prominent and well-respected African, to declare his resignation.

These actions have been enabled by one or two African states while the interests of the majority of States, and of Africans, have been set aside.

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