Over a period spanning more than two decades, the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden – have developed viable and innovative energy systems with a focus on effective system integration, grid stability and sustainable energy solutions. The Nordic countries have a long and strong history of cooperation and partnership with Southern Africa.
During the Nordic Utility Days conference, running concurrently with African Utility Week in Cape Town, the Nordic countries expressed their eagerness to strengthen partnerships with Sub-Saharan countries and discuss opportunities to increase green electrification and water security. The conference was attended by over 30 leading Nordic companies and ministerial delegations, including Sweden’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Niklas Johansson, and Finland’s Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Kai Kaatra.
The Nordic countries hosted a business breakfast with the South African Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe that provided for open and frank discussions on the business and investment opportunities in the South African energy sector.
Experts from leading Nordic companies with well-established positions in the African market – participated in a series of panel discussions on the water and energy value chain. The discussions covered the crucial issues of:
• Investment trends toward sustainability
• Smart cities and why the Nordics are leading
• Smart water management to tackle water scarcity
• The 5 R’s of Water Management Cycle
Access to energy is a central condition for development. With 800 million people still living in extreme poverty across Africa, most of whom lack access to reliable and affordable electricity, the issue of energy access is urgent. The Nordic countries have been considered one of the most successful energy markets in the world. During Energy Minister Radebe’s opening
address at the Nordic business breakfast, he emphasised that “Nordic countries can assist African markets combat challenges in energy poverty, modernise ICT solutions, create employment and generate investments”, and that “moving toward clean and green renewables is crucial to achieve this goal.” Minister Radebe emphasised further that developing carbon capture and storage capacity would be an important contribution to greening the South African energy domain and emphasised the long-standing cooperation with Norway in this area.
Further unpacking the Nordic footprint in the Sub-Saharan market, Danish Ambassador to South Africa, Tobias Elling Rehfeld announced phase two of the Strategic Water Sector Cooperation partnership between Denmark and South Africa. The Danish Minister of Environment and Food and the South African Minister of Water and Sanitation signed a memorandum of understanding regarding water use and water resources in November 2015.
This collaboration provides a concrete example of the kinds of public-private partnerships needed to fundamentally transform the trajectory of economic development in Africa and worldwide.
The Ambassador shared his enthusiasm attendees to the African Utility Week by saying, “the solutions to reaching global sustainable development goals (SDGs) are there and we are anxious to work together to reach affordable water for all countries. SDGs apply globally; the Nordic countries want to be partners. We have political and regulatory technical solutions to act globally and create solutions locally for Africa.”
Sweden’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Niklas Johansson, expressed Sweden’s commitment to developing relations as a contribution to reducing carbon emissions and how Sweden can cooperate in Africa’s power transition. “It is possible to combine good economic growth and reduction of emissions. These discussions are core and crucial to both opportunities and challenges that we face in addressing economic growth, climate change and employment.” On the issue of water security, Finland’s Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Kai Kaatra pointed out that, “with planning, management and governance including cost recovery for water services, it is possible to alleviate water scarcity.”
The Nordic countries have been very successful in building strong relationships and providing tangible resources to energy and water master plans. This participation during Africa’s largest energy conference demonstrates the commitment to working further with Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Nordic Utility Days, a specialised Nordic event encompassing the water and energy value chain, making its second appearance in South Africa.
Nokuthula Moyo, Lifa Communications
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