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EAC Signs International Energy Charter

The East African Community signed the International Energy Charter (IEC) on 25th November 2016 during the 27th Meeting of the International Energy Charter Conference and Ministerial Meeting held on 25th – 26th November 2016 in Tokyo, Japan.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General (Productive and Social Sectors), Hon. Christophe Bazivamo signed the Charter on behalf of the EAC. Other organizations and countries that signed the Charter at the same occasion included Economic Community of Central African Countries (ECCAS), the Permanent Secretariat of the G5 Sahel, Guatemala, Iraq and Iran. By signing the IEC, the EAC joined 73 other countries and organizations that have signed the Charter including four EAC Partner States namely Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The IEC is a political declaration aimed at strengthening energy cooperation among signatory countries and international organizations. Signatories to the IEC commit to create favorable investment environment in the energy sector including the participation of the private sector. The IEC fosters development of energy resources, energy markets, unrestricted transit and distribution of energy resources, products and services.

The signing of the IEC by the EAC and four other signatories was one of the highlights of the 27th Meeting of the International Energy Charter Conference and Ministerial Meeting hosted by the Japan as the current Chairman under the theme “Relevance of the International Energy Charter to Global Challenges: its potential contributions to sustainable development and global efforts on climate change”.

The meeting issued the Tokyo Declaration on the Energy Charter, which highlighted the following issues: contribution of the Energy Charter to the Energy Sector; Challenges and Opportunities posed by the changing Global Energy Landscape and Energy Charter’s role in providing better investment climate for the Energy Sector.

As way forward, through the Tokyo Declaration expressed the members decision to enhance and support energy resource development and investment protection framework; adding new impetus to energy security and crises prevention; raise awareness of Energy Charter’s goals and values with particular emphasis to regions where demand is expected to increase; and enhance efforts to develop energy markets, free transit and distribution of energy resources, products and services.

In his address to the Ministerial session, the EAC Deputy Secretary General (Productive and Social Sectors), Hon. Christophe Bazivamo noted that the signing of the Energy Charter was an expression of EAC’s commitment to develop the energy sector in a responsible and sustainable manner embracing best practice in cooperation with other members of the Energy Charter.

He outlined EAC’s projects and programmes aimed at provision of sufficient, reliable, affordable and sustainable region. Noting that the EAC is continuously working on improving the existing favorable investment climate, the EAC official called upon developed members of the Charter to invest in the EAC’s energy sector to raise levels of energy access and help EAC attain its commitments to global targets under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and UN Sustainable Development Goals. In light of these commitments, the Deputy Secretary General challenged the meeting to consider declaring access to energy as a human right.

On the sidelines of the meeting, the Deputy Secretary General (DSG) held several bilateral meetings. He held discussions with the Japanese Ambassador responsible for Regional Economic Communities, Amb. Fujita; the Secretary General of the Energy Charter and Georgia’s Minister for Energy.

During his meeting with Amb. Fujita, Hon. Bazivamo outlined the integration progress made by the EAC and highlighted Japanese contribution to the process especially in infrastructure and energy development.

He applauded Japan for choosing to host the first TICAD conference outside Japan in East Africa in August 2016 in Nairobi. On his part, Amb. Fujita expressed Japan’s commitment to continue supporting the EAC both at regional and national levels.

He disclosed that during TICAD IV, many Japanese companies expressed interest to invest in East Africa and that over seventy MoUs were signed in that regard. However, he noted that investment by the Japanese companies in the region would be greatly enhanced if Investment Agreements and Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements were signed between Japan and the EAC Partner States.

While meeting the Secretary General of the Energy Charter, Dr. Urban Rausnak, Hon. Bazivamo discussed ways the EAC could benefit from the Energy Charter. The Deputy Secretary General invited the Energy Charter to organize one of the outreach programmes in the region as it would also help to raise awareness on the Energy Charter and how membership to the IEC can help the region to access opportunities for mobilization of resources for increasing energy access and private investment in the energy sector in the EAC.

The Deputy Secretary General also held a bilateral meeting with Georgia’s Minister for Energy who shared his country’s experience in the development of small hydropower and extended an invitation to the EAC to visit Georgia to draw lessons on small hydropower development. Hon. Bazivamo welcomed the invitation noting that EAC is endowed with small hydropower potential that is currently not fully tapped.

Consultation meetings were also held with the delegations from the EAC Partner States participating in the meeting which included Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Rwanda and Tanzania were represented by their respective Ambassadors to Japan, while Uganda was represented by the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Irene Muloni.

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