TOKYO, Japan, February 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Japan-IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) Joint Events: Training Program “Supporting Renewable Energy Deployment in Africa and Pacific Island Countries,” and International Seminar “Market Challenges and Opportunities for Renewable Energy in Asia and Africa” (Summary and Evaluation)
February 18, 2014
(1) On February 3-6, Japan (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) jointly organized a training program entitled “Supporting Renewable Energy Deployment in Africa and Pacific Island Countries” in Tokyo, Japan. This program, aimed at supporting the promotion of renewable energy in Africa and Pacific Island countries, was attended by 13 people, 7 from Africa and 6 from Pacific Island countries. At the same time, Japan and IRENA co-hosted an international seminar on “Market Challenges and Opportunities for Renewable Energy in Asia and Africa” in Tokyo on February 7. This seminar was attended by some 100 people that include those from Japanese private companies as well as the 13 participants of the above-mentioned training program. Mr. Seiji Kihara, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, made the opening remarks at the beginning of the seminar.
(2) These two events were part of Japan’s contribution to IRENA, an international organization specializing in renewable energy. They were also intended to follow up on our commitments made at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) where low-carbon growth in Africa was discussed as an important agenda, as well as the Japan-IRENA Joint Workshop, which was held in Okinawa on the occasion of the Sixth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 6).
2.Training Program “Supporting Renewable Energy Deployment in Africa and Pacific Island Countries”
(1) Participating countries
The training program was attended by 13 energy policymakers from 11 African and Pacific Island countries for which IRENA has conducted or plans to conduct a Renewables Readiness Assessment (RRA) to evaluate the potential for renewable energy deployment.
7 people from African countries: 2 from the Republic of the Gambia, as well as 1 each from the Republic of Ghana, the Kingdom of Swaziland, the Republic of Senegal, the Republic of Niger, and the Republic of Mozambique.
6 people from Pacific Island countries: 2 from the Republic of Kiribati, as well as 1 each from the Independent State of Samoa, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu, and the Republic of Fiji.
Mr. Toby Couture, Director of Renewable Energy at E3 Analytics; Mr. Ansgar Kiene, Director, Africa Liaison Office, World Future Council; Mr. Rohit Kansal, Private Secretary to the Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India; Dr. Drona Upadhyay, Principal Consultant, IT Power; Mr. Kaoru Suzuki, Senior Advisor to the Director General (Energy), Industrial Development and Public Policy Department, JICA; Dr. Naoki Matsuo, Chair, Climate Experts Ltd.; Mr. Toshiaki Nagata, Deputy Director, International Affairs Office, Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Department, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, METI; and others
(3) Major topics and activities
Roles and processes of setting targets for renewable energy deployment
Macro energy policy and cooperation on renewable energy by Japan, photovoltaic (PV) technologies
Policy mechanisms, power systems, and investors’ perspectives on renewable energy
Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) in Africa
FIT in Japan
India’s power auction system and policy of supporting its introduction
Renewable energy assessment in terms of technical and financial viability
How to formulate a project proposal for financing
Project funding opportunities in Africa
Project funding opportunities in Pacific Island countries
Facility tour (a visit to the Panasonic Center Tokyo with briefings on smart grids, solar lanterns, and other technologies)
IRENA is engaged in promoting the wider use of renewable energy sources with the focus on Africa and Pacific Island countries, which face such challenges as excessive dependence on fossil fuels and unstable power systems. Japan believes that it can make a contribution toward the deployment of renewable energy in these regions through the training program jointly conducted by Japan and IRENA.
The participants in the training voiced their appreciation for the Japan-IRENA joint events, stating that it was a precious opportunity to learn from prominent experts from Japan and abroad about such issues as what kind of policy is effective in promoting renewable energy and what skills are needed to ensure the financing of renewable energy projects.
3.International Seminar “Market Challenges and Opportunities for Renewable Energy in Asia and Africa”
(1) Programme summary
Mr. Seiji Kihara, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, shared Japan’s contribution in this field amid the growing importance of renewable energy in the world, such as Japan’s ODA assistance in the energy sector, which is the largest among the member states of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, as well as the various initiatives by Japan in cooperation with IRENA. Underlining the importance of the role played by the private sector in promoting renewable energy throughout the world, Mr. Kihara expressed his expectation that participants would have fruitful discussions about the challenges of promoting renewable energy as well as the role of the private sector in financing, technology, and other aspects.
Mr. Masaomi Koyama, Senior Program Officer, IRENA, gave a lecture entitled “Renewable Energy: Now and the Future, Doubling the RE Share of Global Energy?” He argued that IRENA’s analysis of the global renewable energy market suggests that the cost of renewable energy deployment has generally been falling, as highlighted by the declining cost of solar panels. He backed up his arguments with substantial data.
Ms. Uzoamaka Nwamarah, Senior Climate Change Specialist, AfDB, spoke on “Challenges for Renewable Energy in Africa and Role of the Private Sector.” First, she identified the enormous potential for renewable energy deployment in Africa as well as the challenges and risks involved, especially in relation to administrative procedures and regulations. Ms. Nwamarah then proposed her solutions to these issues. She also introduced recent developments toward a better investment climate and some cases of project financing by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Mr. Anthony Ian Maxwell, Senior Energy Specialist, Asian Development Bank (ADB), lectured on “Challenges for Renewable Energy in Asia and the Pacific and Role of the Private Sector.” Pointing to the steady growth in the use of renewable energy in many island countries in Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Maxwell identified a number of challenges facing these countries, especially in relation to the aspects of the maintenance and operation of the introduced technologies. He emphasized the importance of capacity building for local people. Mr. Maxwell said that the ADB will continue to work with various actors, including Japan, which has developed innovative technologies that are essential for renewable energy deployment.
Moderator: Dr. Kaoru Yamaguchi, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Energy Economics, Japan
The panel discussion began with remarks by two Japanese experts. Dr. Hiroaki Kitano, President and CEO, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. and Mr. Takehiko Kojima, Senior Manager, Power Transmission and Distribution Systems Division, Power and Social Infrastructure Business Group, Fuji Electric Co., Ltd shared their experience in renewable energy projects in areas with poor access to electricity in Africa and Pacific Island countries. They identified major challenges in tapping renewable energy sources and introduced the Japanese technology and knowledge required to address these challenges.
Commenting on these remarks, Mr. Anthony Ian Maxwell, Senior Energy Specialist, ADB, and Ms. Uzoamaka Nwamarah, Senior Climate Change Specialist, AfDB, pointed out that collaboration among different actors, including private companies, government officials, and financial institutions, is essential for successfully addressing the challenges at the local level. They also offered valuable insights in the context of project finance. Valuable insights also came from the floor. A government official from Africa who participated in the February 3-6 training program said that affordable pricing is essential if a renewable energy project is to be sustainable.
The lively discussion was summarized with the statement that capacity building and longer-term institution building that involves local industry are indispensable in resolving one of the major challenges in renewable energy deployment: how to make it sustainable and economically viable.
This seminar enabled the participants to share practical knowledge and experience that is useful for promoting the wider use of renewable energy in countries in Africa and the Asian -Pacific region. This was made possible by technical and down-to-earth discussions that focused on, among other topics, the potential for the wider use of renewable energy and challenges faced in the process in these regions, high expectations for the private sector in terms of financing and technology, and the need for working together with various actors.
The panel discussion offered an excellent opportunity to promote understanding of the advantages of collaboration with the Japanese private sector as well as the potential for public-private partnerships on a global scale. It highlighted the experience of some Japanese businesses involved in renewable energy projects in Africa and Pacific Island countries, with the focus on the challenges that they faced, the technologies and knowledge they utilized to address them, and their assiduous efforts to meet local needs. This prompted many government officials from Africa and the Pacific Island region to ask questions.
The participation of many Japanese companies indicates their strong interest in deploying renewable energy projects in Africa and the Pacific Island countries.