Angola: Access to electricity, diversification of energy mix ‘priorities’ – minister

Diversification of the energy mix and universal access to electricity were identified by Angola’s Energy and Water Minister, João Baptista Borges, at a seminar organised by the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), as “priority” challenges to be overcome by Angola.

“Angola has 40 percent of the population with access to electricity,” said João Baptista Borges.

The Angolan minister was speaking at the virtual seminar, “Angola+Green: Opportunities and Challenges of a Green Transition in Angola,” one of 27 ‘Green Talks’ dedicated to African countries, organised by the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU as part of the EU-Africa High Level Forum on Green Investment, scheduled for 23 April.

The way in which Angola wants to follow the “path of universal access to electricity,” is through “diversification of the country’s energy mix,” Baptista Borges noted. 

“We have recently launched an important project that involves construction of around 300 megawatts [MW] of solar capacity, which will make it possible to diversify our energy sources and deal with the reality of long droughts, which affect availability of water and power,” he said. 

Another of Luanda’s concerns is related to “needs for training, capacity building and adaptation of technological solutions to the habits and customs of the population,” said the minister. 

Angola is interested not only in receiving the transmission of “good practices,” but above all of “solutions that can help better regulate the field of access to renewable energy.

“We have a particular concern today with the attraction of private investment, considering that the State alone will not meet all the needs. But, for that, it is necessary for this to be an attractive and secure business for the private investor,” the Angolan minister noted.

Portugal’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Francisco André, who opened the seminar, noted that “state budgets are limited and partnerships are fundamental,” so that the objectives set by countries within the framework of the green transition and environmental sustainability can be achieved. 

“When talking about green transition, we are not only talking about the environment, but also about economic and social opportunities within this global process of transformation and convergence,” he added.

He highlighted the opportunity provided by the new Neighbourhood, Development Cooperation and International Cooperation Instrument (IVCDCI), with 79.5 billion euros for EU cooperation with third countries, approved in mid-March.

The “Global Europe”, approved a few weeks ago during the Portuguese presidency, makes available for 2021-2027 an envelope close to 30 billion euros for Africa alone” and “around 30% of the almost 80 billion euros are destined to combat the effects of climate change”, stressed Francisco André.

The Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Ricardo Mourinho Félix, underlined that “private investment” – “fundamental” to the green transition – is particularly sensitive to risk-related issues.

Pietro Toigo, representative of the African Development Bank (ADB) in Mozambique and Angola, also said it was “very important” that the “multilateral system” – the EU, EIB and its European shareholders – “make financial instruments for sharing risk of various types, allowing private capital to be mobilised, especially for climate adaptation and renewable energy in ‘project finance’ structures, which are very sensitive to perceptions of risk.

He also warned of “a worrying trend of shareholders withdrawing support for natural gas projects”.

“We think that, from the point of view of the African continent, it might be a bit dangerous to push [for] such a rapid transition,” he noted. 

“Natural gas is a relatively clean fuel compared to oil, and can bring at a global level some gains in terms of emissions, replacing coal and oil-fired generation in emerging countries, in Asia, India and China,” Toigo argued, noting that projects such as the Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas – the largest project in the “project finance” model ever in Africa – can provide some developing countries with the financial cushion to allow them to “invest in climate resilience” and the transition to economies based on renewable energy.

The secretary of state for Internationalisation closed the seminar with an invitation to Luanda to take advantage of the “green hydrogen” opportunity. “Angola has the opportunity to position itself as an African country with great conditions to develop good green hydrogen solutions,” Eurico Brilhante Dias stressed.

“Portugal has developed projects of European interest in the framework of green hydrogen, it is a technology that we know about, which we can share,” he said, noting that green hydrogen was seen as “support” for “the development of new maritime transport from renewable sources and is the backbone of international trade.

Water, waste, sustainable construction, services (in the area of energy certification, consulting), are “other priority areas in which Portugal is focusing on its relationship with Angola, he said.