Non-Aligned Movement has emphasised the importance of access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services for sustainable development. In particular, NAM has stressed on the use to develop renewable energy. The continent of Africa is the most affected by climate change and its impacts on its territories. Hence, Africa has taken a number of initiatives to promote sustainable renewable energy initiatives. One such important initiative is the African Union Energy Initiative (AREI).

AREI is a transformative, Africa-owned and Africa-led inclusive effort to accelerate and scale up the harnessing of the continent’s huge renewable energy potential. Under the mandate of the African Union, and endorsed by African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), the Initiative is set to achieve at least 10 GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020, and mobilize the African potential to generate at least 300 GW by 2030.

AREI emphasizes the need for coordination and mapping of existing initiatives, capacity-building, and provision of bold, programmatic country-wide incentives and regulations, including guarantees for long-term investment security such as tariff- and off-take guarantees (feed-in tariffs). AREI also highlights the importance of civil society participation and multi-stakeholder involvement, as well as social and environmental safeguards and precautionary technology assessments.

The broad objectives of AREI are: 1) Help the African countries achieve sustainable development, enhanced well-being and sound economic development by ensuring universal access to sufficient amounts of clean and renewable energy; and 2) Help African countries leapfrog towards renewable energy systems that support their low carbon development strategies while enhancing economic and energy securities. AREI is guided by the principle of achieving sustainable development in Africa by scaling up and accelerating the deployment and funding of renewable energy in Africa. AREI aims at promoting all kinds of renewable energy technologies, provided they are socially and environmentally appropriate.

AREI envisages a three-phase action plan: 1) The immediate establishment phase (2016-17): This phase envisaged the formal implementation of the AREI, including establishment of the Independent Delivery Unit (IDU); 2) Phase I (2017-2020): Targets in this phase are assessments, preparations and critical enabling activities at the continental African level as well as in a number of pioneering countries, setting the basis for enhanced acceleration. Enabling of appropriate renewable energy projects and programmes already in the pipeline. This phase targets the achievement of at least 10 GW new and additional generation capacity. 3) Phase II (2020-2030): This phase aims at a full-scale roll-out of nationally determined policies, programmes and incentives as initiated under Phase I. Continuous assessments and revisions for further scaling up will also be undertaken during this phase. This phase sets a target of achieving at least 300 GW new and additional generation capacity.

AREI has received widespread support from the international community. During the sidelines of 2015 Paris Climate Meeting, European Union, Sweden and G7 jointly pledged ten billion dollars. Germany pledged to contribute 3.25 billion dollars, France 2.2 billion, Sweden 500 million and Canada 110 million (Canadian) dollar to the initiative, which will provide clean power to millions across the African continent. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner lauded the initiative and remarked: “Africa’s renewable energy revolution will ensure access to clean, reliable and efficient energy, while ensuring we do not add to the greenhouse gas emissions, we are gathered here in Paris to reduce. The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative aims to do just that. Such leadership from Africa, and the financial backing from the international community announced, provides fresh hope that we can tackle the twin challenges of sustainable development and climate change”. The significance of AREI has been aptly highlighted by Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea, Coordinator of renewable energies for Africa and Chair of the AREI Board in the following remarks: “Through the support and guidance of AREI, African countries are set to ensure universal access to people-centred energy for all their communities and move straight to renewable energy systems and zero carbon futures”.