The new European COSME project, AEWEN (African-EU Water and Energy Network), which aims to develop and implement a joint internationalisation strategy to help European SMEs to internationalise in three specific selected African countries (Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia) and help respond to the African demand for green energy and water solutions, started on the 16th of September. The AEWEN project will run for 30 months, until March 2024.
Helping to meet Africa’s demand for green solutions
According to the International Energy Agency, Africa’s rapid economic and demographic growth will have profound implications for the energy sector. This trend, together with the falling costs of the main renewable technologies, will give rise to a new period of dynamism among African policy makers and business communities, opening up new avenues for innovation and growth. At the same time, investments by public and private actors related to achieving the SDG targets on water supply, sanitation and water resource management in Africa create new opportunities for EU businesses to collaborate with local organisations in achieving these targets. This gives Africa enormous potential related not only to energy transition, but also to innovations in the water sector. Both energy and water infrastructures are closely linked and, in many cases, local authorities and/or public agencies are responsible for both infrastructures and supplies.
3 African partner countries
Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia have been selected as the three target countries of the project because of their expected growth in the renewable energy sector and their good ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 study.
- Morocco aims to achieve 52% renewable energy by 2030 (up from the current 34%) and has launched a Priority Drinking Water Supply Programme (which will allocate more than 10,000 million euros between 2020 and 2027) and ranks 53rd out of 190 countries in the world in terms of ease of doing business.
- Tunisia aims to achieve 30% renewable energy by 2030 (compared to 3% in 2019). Furthermore, it has a great need for investment in the water sector (for example, in 2020, the Tunisian authorities signed contracts worth 38 million euros with the European Investment Bank, and more investment in the water sector is expected in the coming years). Tunisia ranks 78/190th in terms of ease of doing business.
- Senegal aims to achieve 30% renewable energy by 2025 (compared to the current 22%) and is ranked 123/190th in terms of ease of doing business.
4 experienced European clusters
In this context, the AEWEN project integrates four well-established European clusters specialised in complementary areas of energy and water. These four clusters have previous experience in international projects and share a common vision of internationalisation services to support their SMEs. The clusters involved are: Tenerrdis as project coordinator and based in Grenoble, France, ENVIRONMENT PARK based in Torí, Italy, the Catalan Water Association (CWP) based in Girona, Spain and Tweed based in Liège, Belgium.
The previous experience, the activities carried out in Africa and the connections already existing in the continent give the groups the necessary experience to carry out this new project. Overall, they are involving more than 400 European SMEs.
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