Cooperation with North Africa on renewables
Cooperation between Europe and North Africa on renewables is a contribution to sustainable development and long-term stability in North Africa, said Minister of State Pieper, opening the 3rd Dii Desert Energy Conference at the Federal Foreign Office on 7 November.
Minister of State Pieper opening the 3rd Dii Desert Energy Conference
In her address, Minister of State Pieper stressed the fact that the Federal Foreign Office, indeed the entire Federal Government, had been supporting the vision of solar and wind energy produced in North Africa to ensure energy supplies in the region and, at a later stage, in Europe for years. This was, she said, part of a strategic foreign policy.
Germany supports change in North Africa
Pieper set support for the DESERTEC vision in the context of the changes in North Africa and the Arab region:
Germany committed itself early on to help these countries, civil societies and people, in this process of change. (…) However, we – Germany, Europe and the international community as a whole – have a fundamental interest in democracy and sustainable development, employment and prosperity in the southern Mediterranean. Regional networks and cooperation in the business sector are crucial.
Cooperation on energy for stability and sustainability
Minister of State Pieper with Tunisian Environment Minister Elbanna and Tunisian Ambassador Ghariani
Renewable energies and cooperation in this field were very important in this context, Pieper went on. In fact, she believed they were the key to sustainable development and long-term stability in the countries of North Africa. The Dii Desert Energy Conference complemented this bilateral cooperation, placing it in a multilateral framework, by providing an important platform for dialogue and exchange between the countries on the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean.
Besides energy and climate-policy aspects, Pieper emphasized the foreign and security-policy dimension:
From the foreign and security-policy viewpoint, the central question to our mind is how to shape energy relations between Europe and North Africa so that energy is not a product we’re competing for, but a major factor for stability and an important pillar of our cooperation. And this question makes energy a key issue of German foreign policy.
Building more networks in the energy sector
Pieper stressed that electricity generated from renewables in the desert would play a key role for Europe’s energy supply. She advocated developing energy relations between Europe and North Africa and, in the long term, also between Europe and the Arab world:
We in Europe can only ensure energy supplies fit for the future if we work together with our neighbours. This also affords a historic opportunity to completely redefine our energy relations by expanding cooperation in the field of renewables. Because it would suggest itself in future for Europe to get electricity from solar and wind energy from North Africa, where the weather conditions are far better than they are here. DESERTEC embodies this vision, a vision of again making the Mediterranean what for centuries it was: not (...) a sea dividing our two regions, but rather a bridge connecting them. Closer links in the field of energy will make North Africa and, in the long term, the Arab world integral parts of the European energy market.
Economic participation through renewable energies, a key sector for the future
The Minister of State added that this energy partnership also played a part in improving the economic situation of the local people:
We support the increased use of renewable energies in North Africa (…) because we see training and employment in this field as being the key to sustainable growth. During my trip to North Africa I invariably sensed dynamism in society, and in particular in my talks with students and government representatives. Giving young people a prospect of economic participation is the key to long-term stability: renewable energy, a key sector for the future offering huge economic potential, is particularly likely to create new jobs, most of them highly-skilled. It is a matter of value creation on the ground, of making a contribution to stability and peaceful development in the entire region.
Pieper pointed out that the Federal Foreign Office quite deliberately invests in education and training in renewables, giving as an example the vocational training centre for renewable energy opened in Tunisia.
Last updated 07.11.2012