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The countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) boasts 57% of the world’s proven oil reserves (World Bank), in addition to other resource-rich characteristics, such as their unique endowment with solar resources. However, and this is especially true in countries where oil and gas resources are large, they also generally face high energy intensity in energy use, which coupled with inefficiency in using their supplies can lead to increased burden on government finance and a higher susceptibility to climate change impact.
It is concerning this governing issue of energy efficiency that 20 experts representing relevant institutions from the MENA region and beyond (including Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia,) gathered at the CMI in Marseille on September 23rd 2014.
The main purpose of this expert meeting was to discuss the preliminary findings of a study currently being finalized by the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE) titled “Delivery Mechanisms and Institutions to Realize Energy Efficiency Potential ” for the MENA region and to agree on the methodology and data sources. Commissioned by the World Bank in May 2014, the study assesses 17 MENA countries in terms of domestic prices of energy products; energy demand and supply, while taking into consideration the specificities of each country. The study will also provide an analysis of shortcomings in the national (or regional) energy systems and policies.
The expert meeting allowed RCREEE to share the study’s purpose and methodology with representatives of many institutions (AFD, ALCOR, CEFEB, CMI, ENCPC, GIZ, IPEMED, KAHRA MAA, MEDENER, Ministry of Trade, Industry and SMEs - Egypt, Plan Bleu, UNDP, UN ESCWA, USAID). The meeting also allowed participants to identify the following issues in unlocking energy efficiency potential:
1. The sectors (Industry, Tertiary, Residential, Agriculture and Fishing etc.) to be prioritized when designing delivery mechanisms in their respective countries. These decisions were based on estimated energy demand projections for 2020 and 2025.
2. The considerations (socio-economic benefits, energy security etc.) accompanying this selection of priority sectors, as well as the challenges which lie before unlocking the potential in these selected sectors.
Some challenges can be turned into opportunities: Take, for example, the challenge of reliance on fossil fuel resources and sustainability issues, coupled with fiscal issues. This can increase governments’ openness toward (i) prioritizing higher energy security and energy sector sustainability; (ii) tackling energy subsidies and (iii) exploiting energy efficiency opportunities on both the supply- and demand-sides. These structural changes, in turn, make way for larger economic benefits.
Participants were also able to present their governments’ and institutions’ regional and national projects:
The CMI platform provided a knowledge-sharing opportunity for the countries present, which were able to share respective best practices and priorities for the sectors being considered for their energy efficiency potential. The dialogue also called for added focus and follow-up on strategic dialogue in capacity building and research to support the ongoing (and desired) changes in the energy sector strategies across MENA.
The study is expected to be finalized in December of this year.