The Symposium provided a platform for delegates to exchange ideas, and the results of the deliberations will inform policy directions in Africa, towards implementing 100% access to clean, affordable and uninterrupted supply of appropriate energy, and economic prosperity which should better the lives of all people.
The more than 200 delegates from 12 countries, including Namibia, represented academia, industry, government, and non-governmental institutions, and they commended the well-organised symposium that was hosted by the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Namibia Energy Institute at the Poly.
Capacity building at both technical and political level was discussed as a critical vehicle to address the pressing challenges and as such several higher educational institutions within the southern African region shared their proposed curricula at vocational, degree, and postgraduate levels, especially as part of the ACP-EU EDULINK programme on higher education cooperation projects.
The delegates also unanimously declared that access to modern energy is a human right, and should therefore be included in the energy policy of each country, if poverty is to be eradicated, and the quality of life of the citizens improved. The delegates made it clear that developed countries have higher levels of access to modern energy, including electricity, with such access considered to be one of the major ingredients supporting economic prosperity. One of the discussion highlights was the fact that Sub-Saharan Africa in general, and Namibia in particular, have low levels of access to modern energy, while they are endowed with abundant natural energy flows such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydro, such as the Inga River in Congo.
A clear case of scarcity in abundance was depicted while renewable energy was identified as a possible solution to the energy shortages and blackouts that were experienced in some countries of the SADC region. The cost of not having energy was regarded as higher value than the money needed to procure the required energy projects.
The delegates launched a Southern African Sustainable Energy Network (SASEN) with Founder Members from Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Germany and Zimbabwe, that will promote continued collaboration among partners, while promoting sustainable energy resource exploitation using sustainable technologies that protect the environment. The University of Botswana has pledged to host the next International Renewable Energy Symposium in Gaborone next year.