External aspects of European integration: energy transition in Africa

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The European integration process has been proceeding along two fronts, i.e. through internal and external facets: on the former, there are several integration blocks (i.e. numerous “unions” like energy and security, health and digital, etc.), on the latter, there are several partnerships with other global regions and countries. For example, closer relations appeared recently between the EU and the African Union, AU in green transition and energy.   

The two global partners, the EU and AU are determined to work together on a strategic, long-term footing to develop a shared vision for EU-Africa relations in a globalised world. The partnership focuses on actions at continental and regional level where the EU and Africa have a collective capacity to deliver.
Four years ago, at the end of 2020, a new by-lateral platform was created to enable stakeholders from both “unions” (the EU and AU) to exchange ideas, best practices and make recommendations on major challenges affecting both continents.
Numerous Africa-Europe Foundation Strategy Groups are active in the areas of health, digital, agriculture and sustainable food systems, sustainable energy and transport. Besides, connectivity play a vital role in taking Africa-Europe relations to the new level adequate to the to present global challenges: they bring together the expertise and skills of academics, think tanks, civil societies, as well as public and private sectors towards new level of understanding the ultimate connections between traditional practices and modern innovations.

Global and European business communities are deeply involved in the African continent, in its various parts and sub-regions. During 2021-27, the Africa-EU Global Gateway Investment Package will support the African continent with €150 billion worth of investments. Some examples: – provision of 450 million vaccine doses to Africa, – enhanced peace and security cooperation, active migration and mobility partnership, and commitment to multilateralism. The Global Gateway Africa program includes, e.g. the EU Investment Package to support Africa for a strong, inclusive, green and digital recovery and transformation including the following means: accelerating the green and digital transition, sustainable growth and decent job creation.
At the 6th EU-AU Summit in Brussels in February 2022, the partners adopted a “Joint Vision for 2030”, aligned with the African Union Agenda-2063. The Agenda-2063 is rooted in Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance and provides a robust framework for addressing past injustices and the realisation of the 21st century as the African Century.
The Agenda represents a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years: i.e. it seeks to accelerate, for example, the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.
Among 20 Agenda’s goals one (nr.7) is aimed to ensure access to “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

Main sources: a) on the EU’s strategy in: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/54412/final_declaration-en.pdf ; b) On AU-2063 Agenda in: https://au.int/en/agenda2063/overview ; and c) specifically on the AU’s infrastructure and energy initiatives in: https://au.int/en/videos/20190101/agenda2063-infrastructure-and-energy-initiatives

The coming conference organized by the Green Institute is devoted to a very interesting and important issue concerning the “energizing” African future through “bridging traditional practices and modern innovations”.
The conference is covering some key issues in the continental energy’s transition, such as new “clean energy” frontiers (e.g. green hydrogen), solar and wind energy, the problems of integrating new forms of energy production into growth through incorporating past and present experiences; cross-sectoral issues in energy, and socio-economic impacts in energy transition.

More on the conference in: https://greeninstitute.ng/energies2024

Available EU’s “know-how” in energy transition
The European energy policy and actions might help other regions in the world to see the positive examples in modern aspects of energy transition:

= Future of energy. Already at the end of 2018, the EU adopted a strategic long-term program for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy by 2050; so-called “Clean Planet for All”. The strategy shows how Europe can lead the way to climate neutrality by investing into realistic technological solutions, empowering citizens, and aligning actions in key areas such as industrial policy, finances and research – while ensuring social fairness for a just transition.
The road to a climate neutral economy in the EU would require member states’ joint action in a number of strategic areas, such as, e.g. energy efficiency and deployment of renewables, safe and connected mobility, competitive national industries and circular economy, infrastructure and interconnections, bio-economy and reducing natural carbon, as well as, finally, carbon capture and storage to address polluting and harmful emissions.

Several aspects have been important:
= First, European energy agenda: = Energy efficiency: reducing energy consumption, efficiency and savings through the European Green Deal package. = Energy infrastructure: creating EU-wide modern energy infrastructure, connecting markets and regions in order to meet EU’s energy and climate goals. = Energy security: working to ensure that energy supplies from abroad are secure and affordable. = Energy strategy aims at creating secure, competitive and sustainable energy system. = Integration of EU-wide energy structures and system to facilitate national energy need to be sufficiently flexible in cross-border, cross-sector innovation and investment. = International energy cooperation with countries around the world and international institutions. = Markets and consumers: the EU’s integrated internal energy market helps to keep energy affordable and guarantee secure supplies. = Nuclear energy: it is aimed to ensure safe and secure use of civil nuclear energy which presently generates almost 30% of electricity. = Oil, gas and coal: ensuring efficient and responsible use of fossil fuels. = Renewable energy: energy from renewable sources reduces greenhouse gas emissions and lowers EU’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. = Research, technology and innovation in numerous directions: e.g. innovation in low-carbon and clean energy technologies are essential to fulfill the EU’s energy union strategy.

Source: https://commission.europa.eu/energy-climate-change-environment/topics/energy_en

= Second, European energy strategy: The EU’s strategy and the member states long-term energy strategies are supposed to cover (within a perspective of at least 30 years) the following sectors: = total greenhouse gas emission reductions and enhancements of removals by sinks; = emission reductions and enhancements of removals in individual sectors, including electricity, industry, transport, the heating and cooling and buildings sector (residential and tertiary), agriculture, waste and land use, land-use change and forestry; = expected progress on transition to a low greenhouse gas emission economy, including greenhouse gas intensity, CO2 intensity of gross domestic product, related estimates of long-term investment, and strategies for related research, development and innovation; = to the extent feasible, expected socio-economic effect of the decarbonisation measures, including, inter alia, aspects related to macro-economic and social development, health risks and benefits and environmental protection; = links to other national long-term objectives, planning and other policies, measures and investment.

= Third, global SDG7 Affordable and Clean Energy, which provides some basic orientations for the energy transition around the world. It involves ensuring universal access to electricity and modern energy sources, while reducing reliance on fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy alternatives.
The goal is to ensure access to clean and affordable energy as a vital “instrument” to the development of agriculture, business, communications, education, healthcare and transportation. The world continues to advance towards sustainable energy targets – but not fast enough. The world-wide perspective involves promoting sustainable agricultural, supporting small-scale farmers and equal access to land, technology and markets. It also requires international cooperation to ensure investment in infrastructure and technology to improve agricultural and industrial productivity.

The EU-AU cooperation…
There are four sectoral taskforces in: a) on digital, transport and connectivity; b) on rural Africa, c) on energy, and on d) the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs; all established in 2018.
The Africa-EU Partnership focuses primarily on cooperation at a continental level and specifically the relationship between the two “unions”: European and African. As such, it complements the EU’s existing frameworks of cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa and with the EU Neighbourhood at bilateral and regional levels.
Source: https://international-partnerships.ec.europa.eu/policies/africa-eu-partnership_en#africa-europe-foundation

… and recent EU initiatives
At the end of March 2024, three health Team Europe Initiatives (TEIs) were launched during the high-level meeting in Brussels between the EU and AU partnership on global health; the TEIs are aimed at strengthening health security, support public health institutes in Africa and boost digital health. Besides, a Team Europe Initiative on social protection in the AU was also launched; it will promote regional collaboration and networking among African and European institutes, and enhance health workforce training, research and knowledge exchange.
Reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/da/ip_24_1563

There are some initiatives as part of the EU Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package presented at the 6th EU-AU Summit in 2022 and supported the “joint vision” for 2030. They are fully in line with the EU Global Health Strategy and the New Public Health Order for Africa to foster resilient health systems on the continent, showcasing the joint commitment of the EU and the AU to supporting initiatives for pandemic preparedness, health security and equitable access to quality essential health services.
The Global Gateway EU-AU aims to support Africa for a strong, inclusive, green and digital recovery and transformation by such measures to accelerate modern transitional efforts in green and digital spheres, in sustainable growth and employment, strengthening health systems, as well as improving education and training.
For example, in sustainable energy, the investment package will stimulate increase of renewable energy and hydrogen in the continental energy mix, access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy as well as supporting market integration and development sectors’ reforms.
African continent is vital as well for the EU’s critical resources, i.e. concerning deficiency in the minerals and metals most relevant for clean energy technologies, which include – but are not limited to – lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, graphite, rare earth elements, and copper, as well as germanium and gallium.

More of the EU-AU investment package in: https://international-partnerships.ec.europa.eu/policies/global-gateway/initiatives-region/initiatives-sub-saharan-africa/eu-africa-global-gateway-investment-package_en

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