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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
China-proposed energy interconnection
for sustainable development in Africa 

By Guo Jun and Saliu Olatunji ABUJA, (Xinhua) -- Heads of state and government in West Africa discussed on Saturday a China-proposed initiative on energy interconnection, exploring a solution to persistent power shortage and achieving sustainable industrial and economic development.

The Global Energy Interconnection (GEI), proposed by China in 2015, was presented at a high-level session held on the sideline of the 54th ordinary session of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja.

The GEI initiative centers on strengthening power grid development, accelerating transnational and trans-regional interconnection, and encouraging clean energy development.

Speaking at the meeting, Liu Zhenya, chairman of Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), said that energy interconnection planning for Africa was a vital part of GEI, and the large-scale development of mineral resources and rapid industrialization in West Africa has created a huge room for growth in electricity demand.

“Yet, local supply alone cannot meet the demand and there is an urgent need for electricity import from other regions,” he told the gathering.

According to the GEIDCO chairman, the initiative is to coordinate the planning and development of clean energy bases such as hydropower, mining and metallurgy bases, and industrial parks.

“The co-development model of electricity, mining, metallurgy, industry and trade, would help forge an integrated power market for power development, transmission and consumption, so as to address the power shortages for industrial development and the lack of market for power development,” Liu said.

The general idea is to change the fragmented and separated development pattern of different countries and industries in Africa in the past and form an industrial chain for win-win cooperation between the upstream and downstream, the GEIDCO chairman said.

This could be achieved by promoting the joint development of electricity, mining, metallurgy, industry, and trade with the ultra-high vacuum (UHV) technology, Liu said.

With this development pattern, Liu said, by 2050 the average power supply cost in West Africa will be lowered and some 30 million new jobs in various industries will be created, according to the data of GEIDCO.

In an interview with Xinhua after the high level meeting, Guinean President Conde said nearly half of Africans do not have access to energy, and heads of state attending the high level meeting are interested in the GEI initiative.

“You have seen today that all heads of state are interested because energy is of fundamental importance to us. So it has been so well received both here and at the African Union. Here we build dams but we also need interconnection,” Conde said.

He said it is obvious that interconnection will enable Africa to industrialize.

“We have iron ore, bauxite, but we can not consume. Africa is going to be a big market. Interconnection will not only expand the market and trade between African countries but will allow us to transform our agriculture and process raw materials on site,” the president said.    Sediko Douka, ECOWAS commissioner for energy and mining, told Xinhua after the meeting that ECOWAS countries have a big energy challenge in terms of power access.

“we have the problem of being unable to develop renewable energy despite that we have several resources.”

The energy forum related to the interconnection of West Africa, and West Africa to other parts of Africa is very interesting for ECOWAS countries because “we have a problem of how to cover the energy demand”, Douka said.    “So any solution and any initiative which can help us to develop our interconnection of transmission lines or to increase the generation of energy is very welcome in the region,” he said.

GEIDCO is an international organization committing to promoting power grid interconnection and meeting the global power demand in a clean and green way. Currently, GEIDCO has over 600 members from more than 80 countries and regions across 5 continents.

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