The Energy Regulators Association of East Africa (EREA) will soon establish an institution that will spearhead sustainable capacity building on energy in the region.
The institution will be established in Arusha, Tanzania at a cost of about $1.5 million.
In a meeting between Tanzania’s minister of energy Dr. Medard Kalemani and EREA Executive Secretary Dr Geoffrey Mabea, it was agreed that all necessary processes be expedited for the project to take off.
Dr Kalemani said that the government of Tanzania has already agreed to allocate substantial space in Arusha for the construction of the institution.
He noted that although the project’s direct beneficiaries will be countries that are members of EAC, the school will be open to all stakeholders in Africa.
Dr Mabea said implementation of the project will increase intra-regional trade as a result of development of regional value chains, increase in growth as a result of development of regional infrastructure projects and sharing of experiences and best practices.
“The project will help us enhance skills and knowledge for spearheading regional policy harmonization and integration processes,” Dr Mabea said.
“It will also foster intra-regional trade and strengthen regional value chains.”
According to Dr Mabea, the project will immensely contribute to continental integration agenda by enhancing connectivity beyond EAC and the operationalization of the Eastern Power Pool.
“The other beneficiaries will be government agencies working in the oil and gas sector who will obtain critical knowledge in trans-boundary projects and resource development in the region,” Dr Mabea said.
“The private sector will also benefit indirectly from an improved business environment due to expected harmonization of tariff methodologies and other instruments.”
Dr Mabea, the first executive secretary of EREA and an energy economist, was optimistic that with the high interest created by development partners, the construction of the structure will commence within a year.
He noted that at the moment, the secretariat is working with other stakeholders such as the African Development Bank (ADC) which is offering online courses to energy stakeholders in Africa.
“These specialized courses have attracted a number of candidates across Africa,” he said.
Kenya’s energy minister Charles Keter applauded EREA for initiating the project.
“For us to attain a robust East Africa Union, sustainable capacity building is critical,” Keter said.
“We need to support such institutions that will provide highly skilled workforce at affordable cost and embrace innovation in the energy sector.”
The establishment of this institution, the first of its kind in Africa has received overwhelming support from the governments from various quarters in Africa.
Governments of East Africa through an MOU that is in circulation for signatures have agreed and committed to push for suitable capacity building in the region.
EREA has developed a concept note for the state-of-the-art institution.
This will address the low level of a highly skilled workforce which has delayed the implementation of many regional projects such as the operationalization of the power pool, integration of renewable energy models, and efficient exploitation of oil and gas.
In addition, the current ad-hoc training available outside the continent is costly and available occasionally.
“For increased operational efficiency to achieve the EAC’s policy harmonization agenda there is a need to develop highly skilled staff to provide services in the highly specialized field,” Dr Mabea said.
“This will promote a robust East African Energy Union. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the region and Africa to collaborate with willing development partners to initiate a short-term and long-term sustainable capacity-building strategy.”
He said that EREA has identified a novel approach to expedite the process of collaborating to build both “hard” and “soft ” skills for the workforce in the region’s National Regulatory Institutions (NRIs) and other stakeholders and continent-wide.
Dr Mabea further said that in the Electricity Regulatory Index 2020 report by ADB, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya were among the best five countries in Africa in regulation.
The index considers three key indicators; Regulatory Governance, Regulatory Substance and Regulatory Outcome.
“Such a report is good news to our region because it implies that our governments have developed robust energy frameworks, have the capacity to foster the regulations as required and the outcome of the implementation of these regulations can be seen to improve the performance of the energy sector,” Dr Aori said.