Two representatives of the Embassy of Madagascar followed with interest the 13th German-African Energy Forum organized by “Afrika Verein” German-African Economic Association from 26 to 28 March 2019 in Hamburg.
The trip was optimised to meet companies already present in Madagascar, and in particular, those who want to return and strengthen their presence, such as ABB, SIEMENS, VOITH, GAUFF, MAN Energy solutions, Eranove, to exchange on investment opportunities in Madagascar, to attend the country session of Togo, having similar projects to implement in Madagascar, it was also an opportunity to exchange on current topics and challenges to be met with the Honorary General Consul of Madagascar in Hamburg.
From the various opening speeches by the President of Afrika Verein, followed by speeches by the Secretary of State of the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy, and the Minister of State of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, several elements deserve attention, namely, how to catch up with China, which is the leading funder of the Continent, how to combine forces so that Africa has the necessary energy not only to meet the needs of the population but also to boost the economy, create jobs, especially for young people and women.
Moreover, organized under the theme “Realizing and Financing the Energy Revolution in Africa”, the Forum highlighted through the various discussion panels the most promising areas for investment opportunities and energy cooperation between German and African companies, including intelligent energy systems, waste-to-energy conversion, off-grid solutions, gas-to-electricity conversion and energy infrastructure development, particularly in the areas of transport and distribution, renewable energy, hybrid systems, capacity building and energy project financing. The role of women in society was not to be overlooked, as a “Women in power” session allowed them to discuss the challenges ahead in embracing the principle of using environmentally friendly energy in every household in urban and rural/remote areas, and ensuring the health of their families.
A few attempts at a two-day Forum can be summarized in the need to invest in infrastructure, transfer the “right technology”, create viable financing systems between actors (state guarantee, guarantee by insurance companies, German support), ensure a favourable investment environment, and train young people for skilled jobs. The “research and development” aspect has not been ignored, in a context of different energy efficiency per country.
It was also stressed that Germany must play a model role in relation to international competitors and adopt a holistic approach, going beyond the energy sector alone.
On another scale, but always in the context of risk reduction, countries, including Madagascar, are part of programmes such as the PDP: “project development programmes”.
It was also proudly mentioned that 2018 was a record year for investment in the African continent: €1 billion (a 10% increase never recorded), as was Hermès, financial coverage insurance, which posted a good 60% increase in one year, with the objective of achieving growth of €2 to €3 billion for this year.
On an optimistic note, the principles have been acquired that renewable energies constitute a main pillar of electricity supply, and that it will also be a question of ensuring trans-regional complementarity (the case of Ghana once the objectives have been achieved). Interdependence and complementarity between African countries were highlighted: free trade is planned in the sector, reflecting the Continent’s free trade area, which has entered into force thanks to Gambia’s recent ratification.
It is also essential to combine renewables and energy efficiency, the hallmark of success in promoting trade and business.
In any case, all African stakeholders agree that the perception of risk in Africa must be reviewed, the sector is attractive, there is room for cooperation and concrete action, and progress together, even at different speeds.