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For the past 5 years Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA) has been running a national capacity building programme called Sustainable Energy for Environment and Development (SEED). SEED focuses on local authorities in South Africa and has partnerships and staff working in the metropolitan local authorities as well as a number of supporting NGOs, it also has partnership agreements with national government. DANIDA and the partners fund the programme. Part of the task of SEED is to broaden this national network into a SADC regional network through the development of a directory and distribution of information. Last year, SEA, as a means of extending the learnings of the SEED Programme, proposed a City Energy Strategies Conference and simultaneously considered the advantages of extending the SADC regional network idea to an African Network (possibly related to networks such as the Energies Cites in Europe etc).

The City Energy Strategies Conference will be held 19 - 21 November 2003 in Cape Town, followed on 22 November by a workshop on the proposed ‘African Energy Cities Network’. This conference will be a first for the African continent. The conference will be hosted by the South African Cities Network (linked to the Cities Alliance), Sustainable Energy Africa and the City of Cape Town, in association with ICLEI and SALGA and with the endorsement of UNEP. Using international and local experience, this conference aims to inspire and enable local authorities in South Africa to develop their own Energy Strategies as part of their city development plan and provide useful information in a practical way.

While the conference focus is on South African cities, the conference will also be an opportunity for municipalities from other African countries to showcase their energy initiatives and to learn from the work of other cities.

UNEP is partnering SEA in setting up this Network and ICLEI has given its full support. Funding for this first meeting is from DANIDA and UNEP.