International energy experts are meeting in Mogadishu on Wednesday to discuss investment opportunities in Somalia’s sustainable energy sector.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Salim Aliyow Ibrow, who opened the meeting late Tuesday, said the government was in the process of drafting regulations to govern investment in the energy sector.
Ibrow noted that the pressing need for the country to move in the direction of renewable energy sources, according to a statement from the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) released on Wednesday.
“The country needs investment to harvest energy from the sun, water and wind. The investment will develop industries and hence create employment,” the minister added.
The two-day conference organized by the government and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) brings together government officials, donors, private sector investors and practitioners and international sustainable energy experts.
The UN expert on renewable energy, Andrew Morton, observed that the energy sector in Somalia is in the hands of the country’s private sector, which has been receiving grants from the international community.
“But to really grow, it needs to bring in financing, it needs to bring credit. And to get that happening, we need to set up the right environment. We need to have interesting projects and interesting businesses in which companies can invest,” Morton added.
The forum is discussing challenges facing the energy sector that include low rates of investment and the high cost of energy in Somalia, which is saddled with one of the highest household tariffs for electricity in the world.
It will also look at opportunities for investment in oil and gas in addition to renewable energy options such as wind, solar and hydropower.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG) Michael Keating said Somalia has enormous energy resources which can be used to address health, education, social, environmental and security challenges facing the country.
However, Keating said more regulation of the renewable energy sector was needed to promote its growth.
“At the moment it’s fairly unregulated and even though some businesses are making money, it is very small compared to what could be done if the sector was more regulated,” Keating noted.
Some speakers noted the adverse effects of 25 years of conflict and instability in hindering the development of Somalia’s energy sector.