By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK African energy experts in the regulation sector are faced with the pressing challenge of how best to balance the needs of consumers with those of operators in the industry in order to achieve sustainable growth through a transparent manner. Over sixty percent of Africans do not have access to electricity today. In light of this, concerted efforts must be made to make this resource more affordable and accessible to the people on the ground. This scenario was painted by various speakers at the 3rd Annual General Assembly, Conference and Exhibition of the African Forum for Utility Regulators (AFUR) currently underway in Windhoek. Addressing the over 100 African and international representatives, Minister of Mines and Energy Erkki Nghimtina said the conference was timely due to the pressing needs and challenges facing the energy regulatory entities on the continent. "This conference is timely due to the pressing needs in order to enhance their capacities. Independent regulation therefore requires strong commitment," said the minister. Amongst the numerous problems facing the continent are maintenance of infrastructure, mismanagement of assets and lack of transparency and service delivery within the sector. In view of this, Nghimtina urged participants to make maximum use of the ongoing deliberations during the conference in an effort to find the most ideal hybrid models that could enhance the regulatory industry. Since regulation is still a new concept for most member countries of AFUR, this poses a great challenge to train the experts in this sector to develop effective practical approaches to regulation. However, through interaction and partnerships these issues can be addressed. Speaking at the same occasion, Chairperson of AFUR Smunda Mokoena said there is a need for regulators to spread the word about economic regulation. "Let us learn, educate and motivate Africa towards a culture of transparent energy efficiency. We need to create awareness and build capacity in efficient use of energy. Producers and users of energy (therefore) stand to benefit from this," explained Mokoena. Over the past few days, deliberations were centred on the primary role of the sectoral committees, namely, Energy, Water and Sanitation as well as Telecommunications. Attention was also placed on the 'AFUR Strategic Plan 2006-2010' that strives to outline its current achievements and pave the way ahead. As endorsed under Clause 110 of the framework document of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, AFUR is expected to be the leading agency on regulatory matters for infrastructure development and management on the continent. AFUR was formally launched in Pretoria, South Africa at a meeting attended by 29 regulatory authorities from thirty-five African countries in November 2001. During the annual general meeting on Friday, four new members will be added to AFUR, while delegates will discuss projects and proposals for various hybrid models in order to boost the conti-nent's regulatory industry. The conference, which ends on Sunday, is being held under the theme: "Regulatory Governance - Exploring Innovative and Hybrid Models."
2006-03-17 00:00:00 12 years ago