By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Cabinet last week gave approval for the Ministry of Mines and Energy to table the Africa Commission Convention in the National Assembly. The African Energy Commission, an organ of the African Union is tasked with coordinating and harmo-nising policies and pro-grammes of the energy sector and also the establishment of a mechanism to ensure action and finding a collective solution to the development of energy problems on the continent. At the African Union summit held in Khartoum, Sudan in January this year, members were urged to ratify the convention as a way of finding a lasting solution to high-energy prices. The convention was established recognising that many African countries face severe energy shortages, which have constrained development efforts for many years despite the enormous conventional energy potential as well as the vast deposits of new and renewable energy resources. It was also formed on the recognition that Africa must harness its energy resources and make them available to meet the needs of its people in order to be able to develop and provide an alternative to deforestation and the use of firewood as the primary source of energy. Among others, the Lagos Plan of Action, the Cairo Agenda for Action, the First Pan African Energy Ministers Conference, and the first and the second Regional Conference of African Ministers responsible for the Development and Utilisation of Mineral and Energy Resources advocated for the need for socio-economic development and exploration of energy resources. The functions of the Africa Energy Commission, whose headquarters are in Algiers, Algeria are to map out energy development policies, strategise and plan based on sub-regional and continental development priorities and recommending their implementation. It is also tasked with giving advice and encouraging the development of human resources in the energy sector through training and also to design, create and update a continental energy database. Other functions of the commission include working towards the realisation of added value to energy resources in member states and providing assistance in feasibility studies for energy projects and its impact on the environment. Meanwhile, the Cabinet has also given a green light to the ministry for it to join the African Petroleum Producer’s Association as an observer before becoming a full member. Minister of Mines and Energy Erkki Nghimtina will participate in the meeting, which is scheduled for April 24, 2006. The association was established in 1987 to promote cooperation and joint policy initiatives in the areas of gas and oil development among its members. Its objectives are among others to promote pooling exchange and sharing of human, scientific, technological and financial resources necessary for the development of oil and gas industry of its members. The benefits for Namibia’s becoming a member of APPA include promoting networking between Namibian experts in the hydrocarbon sector and their counterparts in other APPA countries and also strengthening Namibia’s oil and gas policy perspectives with insights gained from other member states. Namibia qualifies to be a member of APPA because of its hydrocarbon potential with its proven gas reser- ves.