African Ministerial Roundtable highlights energy’s vital role in response to the Covid-19 crisis

Africa Roundtable

Ministers from African countries representing about two-thirds of the continent’s energy consumption met with global energy leaders today to consider the policies and investments that can enable Africa’s energy sector to best support responses to the dual challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and global economic recession.

Chaired by Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Senegal’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, and Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, the virtual roundtable meeting brought together 10 ministers from Africa, including the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa, which holds the 2020 African Union presidency, as well as ministers from Nigeria, Egypt, and Morocco, among others. 

The Ministerial roundtable also included leaders from the African Union, the United Nations, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, OPEC, the European Union, Power Africa, and the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Discussions focused on three key areas for Africa’s energy future: electricity, oil and gas, and sustainable, inclusive transitions. Participants stressed the need for sound government policies and enhanced investments to support economies and develop resilient and sustainable energy systems.

As Africa’s energy sector faces the dual impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and global economic recession, participants agreed that sound government policies and enhanced investment are more important and necessary than ever to enhance the continent’s economic transformation; ensure sufficient, affordable, reliable energy for all citizens; and drive inclusive, just and sustainable, energy transitions. (See the Chair’s Summary)

“With its young and dynamic population, Africa has an increasingly important role in the world’s energy future. The region has long been a key part of the IEA’s work, but I am delighted that our engagement with African governments, institutions and energy companies continues to grow stronger. Today’s high-level ministerial meeting is a clear example of those deepening relationships,” said Dr Birol. “I would like to thank my co-chair, Minister Cissé, for his leadership throughout. With the challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, the IEA is more committed than ever to working with African countries to help them achieve more secure and sustainable energy systems for all their citizens.”

This year began with a lot of optimism across Africa’s energy sector, but continued energy progress is now uncertain as Africa – like the rest of the world – faces the wide-ranging impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to enter into recession in 2020 for the first time in 25 years as a result of the crisis. Many African economies also have limited fiscal capacity and are heavily indebted, undermining their ability to absorb these economic shocks. The energy sector has not been spared.

"We will not have harmonious economic and social development in our African countries if we do not address the issue of reliable and affordable energy, especially in rural areas. The potential of the continent is enormous," said Minister Cissé. “Africa needs structural energy investments in order to develop its full potential. Africa needs be supported to participate actively in the energy transition by respecting its global environmental commitments."

"Today's highly successful Ministerial Round Table is a milestone in the new cooperation between Senegal and the IEA. The conversations during this event showed that the best way forward for the energy sector in Africa is to work together," he concluded.

Participants stressed the following top recommendations:

  • An efficient secure, affordable and sustainable power sector is vital to Africa’s economic recovery and transformation, and its ability to enhance resiliency to other challenges over time. 
  • Enhancing investments in new grids, (national and mini-grids) and in the off-grid sector as well as in generation facilities are essential to ensure a resilient and reliable power sector that can drive economic recovery.
  • Setting bold energy sector priorities and plans today can enable much-needed investments to stimulate broader economic growth tomorrow, including creating employment opportunities, supporting new skill development, unleashing the creativity of African entrepreneurs across the African continent and creating wealth.
  • Africa’s oil and gas exporters, who have been severely impacted by the crisis, can seize the opportunity to re-evaluate their strategies to generate the most value and jobs across their economies and to promote broader economic diversification.
  • To secure energy supplies and development in many Africa countries, increase oil storage capacities and product stocks; upgrade refineries to produce higher quality products that are less polluting; and build local capacity and skills through training.
  • Lower oil prices, in particular liquid petroleum gas (LPG), could open the door to advance clean cooking access; LPG services could also create jobs.
  • Maintaining focus on universal access to electricity and modern cooking is essential, especially in Africa; African governments and other partners should continue to work together to ensure progress toward SDG7.
  • Enhanced regional and international cooperation can play an important role in helping to build robust, affordable, sustainable and resilient energy systems across the continent.

The outcomes of this ministerial roundtable will be shared with key global decision-makers, governments, international financial institution, business leaders including for the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit, on 9 July 2020 and AUC-IEA Ministerial Forum in South Africa, in November 2020. The outcomes will also help guide and inform the IEA’s increasing efforts in Africa, including helping to inform key decision-makers from governments, companies, investors and organizations.



  • H.E. Mr. Mouhamadou Makthar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Senegal
  • Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency

Keynote Speakers

  • H.E. Mr. Samson Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, South Africa
  • Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations



  • H.E. Mr. Dona Jean-Claude Houssou, Minister of Energy, Benin
  • H.E. Mr. Abdourahmane Cissé, Minister for Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energy, Cote d’Ivoire
  • H.E. Mr. Mohamed Shaker El-Markabi, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Egypt
  • H.E. Mr. Frehiwot Woldehanna, State Minister for Energy, Ethiopia
  • Ms. Ditte Juul Jørgenson, Director-General for Energy, European Commission
  • H.E. Mr. Fafa Sanyang, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Gambia
  • H.E. Mr. Andreas Feicht, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany
  • H.E. Mr. John-Peter Amewu, Minister of Energy, Ghana
  • H.E. Ms. Alessandra Todde, Under Secretary of State of Economic Development, Italy
  • H.E. Mr. Aziz Rabbah, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Sustainable Development, Morocco
  • Eng. Mr. Pascoal Alberto Bacela, National Director for Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Mozambique
  • Hon. Mr. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy, Namibia
  • H.E. Ms. Kitty van der Heijden, Vice-Minister for International Cooperation, Netherlands
  • H.E. Mr. Goddy Jedy Agba, Minister of State for Power, Nigeria
  • Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, MP, Sierra Leone
  • Sir Simon MacDonald, Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom
  • Thomas (T.L.) Cubbage, Deputy Under-Secretary for Science, Department of Energy, United States
  • Hon. Francis R. Fannon, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources, Department of State, United States 

International organizations and private sector

  • Mr. Bertrand Walckenaer, Deputy CEO, AFD
  • H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union
  • Mr. Claudio Descalzi, CEO, ENI
  • Mr. Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director of the Africa Department, IMF
  • Mr. Francesco La Camera, Director-General, IRENA
  • Mr. Hiroto Kamiishi, Deputy Director-General and Group Director for Energy and Mining, JICA
  • H.E. Mr. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General, OPEC
  • Mr. Mark Carrato, Acting Coordinator, Power Africa
  • Ms. Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO & UN SRSG for SEforALL
  • Dr. Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
  • Ms. Frannie Leautier, Senior Partner, SouthBridge Group
  • Mr. Riccardo Puliti, Global Director, Head of the Energy and Extractive Industries Global Practice and Regional Director, Infrastructure for Africa, World Bank