Access to energy services is essential for human development and a prerequisite for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, yet 1.6 billion people in developing countries still have no access to electricity and 2.5 billion still use traditional biomass fuel for cooking. On current trends, by 2030, the number of people without access to modern energy services will be the same as today. Most of the increase will be in the rural areas of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In other words, unless policy and investment efforts change, more than one third of the population in developing countries, 15 years after the MDG target, will be unable to access the energy they need to escape poverty.

With their forthcoming presidency of the EU in 2009, the Czech Republic has decided to give priority in development policy to ‘Access to Sustainable Energy Sources at the Local Level.’ In preparation for 2009, the Department for Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Affairs of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has commissioned a study to provide up-to-date insight and policy recommendations for the Czech presidency.

The study was undertaken for the MFA by a team from Practical Action Consulting Ltd. The report broadly follows the Terms of Reference for the study, which are provided in the volume of Appendices, but has been shaped by discussions with the MFA. In the attached report some background to the key concepts underlying the focus of the study is provided. This is followed by analysis of critical policy issues affecting energy sector development and access to energy in developing countries, and an assessment of development co-operation for energy access. The final sections of the report focus on the role of EC instruments and processes.

A few of the recommendations made:

Access to Sustainable Energy Sources on a Local Level – Expert Analysis and study on the current policy issues

''Summary Report
1st December 2008''

On the importance of access to modern energy services

That the focus of the EU Presidency, during the first half of 2009, on ‘access to sustainable energy services at the local level’ in order to reduce poverty, should be used to help lay the foundations for the EU position at CSD in 2010.

On decentralising energy services

That EC support for energy development programmes and for specific investments, is based on an assessment of the relative benefits of decentralised or centralised energy systems, from the point of view of national development objectives, such as the contribution to poverty reduction through creation of employment and provision of basic social services; local value added; impact on local and national energy security.

On cooking energy services

That the EU should include in dialogue with partner countries and regional bodies, consideration of the benefits of including development of cooking energy services within national and regional development plans. The EU should encourage partner countries to engage in dialogue with (local and international) private sector actors involved in the field of household energy (cooking) with a view to determining how donor activities could best support scaleup.

The importance of modern energy for cooking to people living in developing countries should be emphasised in the call for proposals for a second phase of the EU Energy Facility.

On Climate Change

That EC and MS support to partner countries for energy sector development should include the development of long-term energy strategies which enable them to meet development objectives, including access to modern energy services for their populations, and future low-carbon energy systems.

When the EC and MS contribute, in all relevant forums, to international dialogue on standards and regulations for biofuels, the human development perspective is represented.

On Energy efficiency

It is recommended that the EC should support partner country efforts in favour of energy efficiency through:
  • Mobilising the vast experience of EU agencies responsible for energy efficiency in support of developing country energy efficiency agencies (e.g. through twinning programmes, joint seminars, and study trips)
  • Developing country partner participation in EC energy efficiency actions such as the SAVE programme
  • EC research programmes including specific actions pertinent to developing country energy efficiency, including how policy can support demand/enduse technologies for energy efficiency

On energy security

It is recommended that dialogue through the Africa-EU Energy Partnership should consider mutual energy security objectives and take account of the development objective of energy access for poverty reduction.

On local capital

That EU development programmes for the energy sector take account of independent analyses of current best practice for the mobilisation of local private sector finance.

Download the report

Read more of the recommendations and the report in full here

The EU Council Resolution relating to the report can be dowloaded here