By Goth Mohamed Goth
Hon Hussein Abdi Dualeh in his keynote speech at Somali Renewable Energy Forum today said, “Distinguished participants of this well attended renewable energy forum that promotes the need to tap into the vast renewable energy resources of Somaliland and that of the horn of Africa region. It is indeed an honor for Somaliland to host this important meeting for the first time. Much credit and thanks goes to Shuraako, the event organizers, who with the support of Somaliland Ministry of Energy & Minerals made this event happen here in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital. There are attendees from countries across the region including: Somaliland, Somalia, and Somali region of Ethiopia,
This is purely a technical forum which will greatly benefit the participants from the energy sector in the region to share ideas and listen to a wide range of experts in the renewable energy field in order to promote and encourage meaningful renewable energy development projects in the region.
I have been asked by Shuraako to make opening remarks and will take this opportunity to touch on the challenges as well as the opportunities that the region faces in having access to clean and affordable energy. I’ll particularly focus on the Somaliland experience in this regard. However, please note that the challenges that we face here in the energy sector is not much different than those felt in the entire region.
Mother earth and the natural environment around us is changing in front of our very eyes. The negative human impact on the environment worldwide is undeniable. These common effects include: decreased water quality, deforestation, depletion of natural resources, ever decreasing wildlife species, the depletion of fish stocks, increased pollution, increased greenhouse gas emissions which results in global warming. As a result of these effects, weather patterns around the world are changing for the worse resulting in cataclysmic weather events such as severe and prolonged droughts, wide ranging wild fires, and intense storms that result in massive floods.
In the Horn of Africa region and in many parts of Africa, the lack of access to affordable suitable energy is directly linked to environmental degradation such as deforestation and erosion. Likewise, there is direct correlation between access to affordable energy and poverty levels among peoples of the region.
Electricity generation in Somaliland is mostly done through diesel generators. The installed capacity is under 100MW. Consequently, the country has one of the highest electricity rates in the world, $1.00, with an average of $.80. Thanks to recent drop in oil prices, and consequently the cost of deiseal, electricity rates have recently dropped by an average of C20.
As you can see, Somaliland is currently an energy poor county. However, it is a renewable energy resource rich country. The country is endowed with year round sun that provides an average of 11 hours of sunshine per day. Somaliland also posts one of the highest wind speeds in the continent. These two RE resources if tapped can supply ample quantities of clean affordable energy to the nation that can mitigate the harmful environmental effects of biomass and fossil fuel use.
However, there are huge challenges that is common to the countries in the region as well as other parts of the continent that stands in the way of developing and accessing these key renewable in energy resources. These challenges are many but include:
- The high upfront investment cost to get RE project of the ground
- Lack of human resources expertise and experienced engineers
- Little attention by most governments to the role that RE projects can play in rural electrification.
- Inadequate feasibility studies to map out and identify the capacity of all RE resources in each country
- Limited energy infrastructure and its management capabilities
- Lack of well-coordinated approach to large RE projects
- Poor underutilization of the regional RE sources as solar, wind, hydroelectric power, Geothermal, Tidal/wave, Biomass based electricity generations, and Municipality waste to energy conversion projects.
- Weak cooperation among the countries in the region on RE energy development projects.
- Lack of adequate cooperation on the sector among the countries of region and the lack of permanent expertise meetings and platforms for research and development and exchange of know-how and expertize.
- Weak regulatory regimes and electricity commissions.
- Inadequate involvement of the regional universities in the energy sector development and R&D and contribution to its development.
- Limited effective support and investment input from the international community in funding RE projects in the region.
Despite all these challenges, Somaliland is doing all it can in a small ways to embrace the use of RE development projects. Only few years ago, there was little understanding or use of solar panels or wind turbines in Somaliland. With the Ministry of Energy’s involvement in spearheading pilot projects, conducting awareness raising for the public and the power producers, there is a steady and growing use of RE in Somaliland, however limited.
The Ministry paved the way for the promotion of renewable energy through the development of an energy policy that was adopted by the government in 2010. The Ministry also initiated the development of an Electricity regulatory framework for Somaliland. A Somaliland Electricity Act has been drafted and is planned to be enacted into law this year. The Act which is currently under revision with expert assistance funded by DFID will establish an energy regulatory commission that will regulate the electricity sector to attract investment into Somaliland’s electricity sector and ensure best practices.
The small wind farm that power our airport in Hargeisa is an example of the embrace of RE in SL. When the system was completed in 2013, a number of similar projects propagated in all regions of Somaliland. There at least a dozen such wind turbine projects that are either operational or under the planning stages or under construction.
Solar power projects are also seeing a steady growth in Somaliland. Last year, the town of Las Anod power supplier (LESCO) commissioned a first of its kind in the country in Africa hybrid solar power project that meets most of the city’s power needs during the day. The power supplier of the City of Burao (HECO) is about to complete the largest solar power plant in Somaliland that will meet the day time power supply needs of the city. Other IPPs are following suite and are planning wind/solar RE projects to augment their power supply capacity that comes mostly from diesel fired generators.
A renewable energy mini-grid project (ESRES) funded by DFID is currently under way in Somaliland which will support the development of renewable energy mini-grid systems in selected villages, towns and cities in Somaliland.
Despite these measurable initiatives, these RE projects constitute a very small percentage of the total power supply of the country. These efforts to tap into available RE resources that Somaliland is endowed with will continue to grow and be supported and encouraged by this government.
Another option that Somaliland government is considering is to provide access to additional affordable clean energy for its people by interconnecting with Ethiopia’s burgeoning hydroelectric power capacity. In my capacity as the Minister of Energy of Somaliland, I held multiple meetings with my counterpart in Ethiopia in the past as well as with EEP leadership to initiate a dialogue between the two countries to enhance and cultivate this mutually beneficial cross-border cooperation in the power sector. The talks between the two countries are moving forward and have made good progress.
Somaliland has one of the best telecommunication services in Africa. We reached this advancement in telecommunication by leap frogging the old telephone pole, hardwired telecommunication systems to using modern state of the art 4G wireless systems. Hence the cost of telecom services are very affordable in Somaliland. We want to follow the same strategy to leap frog the old style smoke stack power generation systems of the past and move to the use of modern clean energy technologies to generate and distribute sustainable and affordable electric power for our people.
Access to clean energy for the region’s inhabitants will go a long way towards reducing the harmful effects of human activity to save our environment for the sustainability of our livelihoods. The Somaliland government is doing all it can to promote and incentivize the increased use of clean RE technologies to reduce the ongoing pressures on downing trees for biomass energy use and to wean ourselves away from relying on expensive carbon-based power supply.
Renewable energy forums such as this one is useful to promote sustainable energy generation and use to provide clean affordable energy for the peoples of the region. It is a great opportunity for the electric power producers of Somaliland to network among themselves in this energy forum as well network with their neighbors attending this forum and exchange success stories as well as challenges. A slew of international energy experts will also speak at this forum which will be of great benefit for the attendees to listen to improve their ability to adopt to the use of clean energy technologies of the future. I strongly advise the participants to make the most of this useful gathering.
Thank you all for listening and I wish you a very successful forum which I am sure you will have.
Less than a third of Somalis are estimated to have access to electricity, for which they pay amongst the highest tariffs in the world. But the Horn of Africa has about the best potential in the continent for onshore wind power and one of the highest rates of daily solar radiation in the world.
In response to local demand, the Somali Renewable Energy Forum 2016 is hosted in collaboration with the Somaliland Ministry of Energy by Shuraako, a nonprofit initiative that facilitates investments for promising Somali small and medium sized enterprises. “The Forum aims for dialogue and development of the Somali energy sector, a sector positioned to have the greatest single positive impact across all industries, with considerable potential to boost economic growth,” says Lee Sorensen, Director of Shuraako.
“Inadequate and expensive energy has long been an obstacle to the region’s economic progress,” says Mohamoud Ahmed Liban, Chairman of the Somaliland Electricity Association. “This forum will help us unlock the potential of our abundant renewable energy sources.”
The Forum will bring together local energy companies; the Chambers of Commerce from Somaliland, South Central Somalia and Puntland; technical experts, investors and donors. Discussions will include how to strengthen energy production and distribution, improve investment opportunities and applications of new technology, and address skilled local work force needs.
Shuraako (www.shuraako.org) is a nonprofit initiative of the One Earth Future Foundation (www.oneearthfuture.org), based in Colorado, USA. Points of contact for the media:
Sustainable economic growth in Somaliland, Puntland and South Central depends on affordable and reliable access to electricity. Somalis pay some of the highest tariffs in the world for energy, crippling businesses and tightening household budgets; yet the country has among the highest potential of any African country for onshore wind power and one of the highest rates of daily solar radiation in the world.
The SREF 2016 intends to address the needs expressed by local stakeholders who wish to advance reliable, sustainable, scaled generation and distribution of energy, with a focus on renewable energy. The SREF 2016 will host a series of relevant discussions engaging all stakeholders to advance this goal of sustainable and affordable energy for all Somalis.
The conference will be hosted in Hargeisa, Somaliland from February 20-23, 2016.
The first two days of the conference will see sessions relevant to all attendees, while the last two days are blocked for specific work stream sessions. The program for the first two days is designed to imprint a more accurate impression of the Somali energy landscape, strengthen strategy for energy production and distribution, share new technology solutions, increase investment opportunities, and improve knowledge of labor force demand and training, while strengthening partnerships and sharing ideas. The five tracks include:
Forum Sponsors include the following:
Abaarso Tech University, ALEL Power, Aloog Energy, BECO, Beder Electricity Co., Dahabshiil, ESRES, Forcier Consulting, GECO, Golis Solar Co., HECO/EEPCO, IBS, SECCCO, Solargen TechnoTechnologies Ltd., Somalia GEEL, Telesom Electric Co., UK Aid, World Bank Group