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Updated: Jan 19

Meet the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga to IRENA

The Kingdom of Tonga has ambitious renewable energy targets. It aims to source 70 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2030 and is on track to reach 50 per cent by the end of 2020 – a major milestone in the country’s path towards decarbonisation. The Permanent Representative of Tonga to IRENA and Ambassador of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Arab Emirates, His Excellency Honourable 'Akau'ola, talked to us about the country’s ambitions and the importance of private sector involvement to the energy transition.

My country’s achievements in the field of renewable energy give me great pride. The “Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) 2010-2020” is a national goal to reach 50 per cent of electricity generation from renewable energy, which forms the basis of Tonga’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement. The TERM was hailed by development partners as a model for energy sector reformation and as an example of best practice. For this reason, Tonga presented the model to the IRENA Membership at the IRENA Preparatory Commission Meeting. The Kingdom’s “whole of sector” approach, which it undertook in 2009, emphasised the need for affordable, accessible electricity for the whole Kingdom.

Becoming a Permanent Representative of IRENA and representing my country here in Abu Dhabi as Ambassador is a great honour. We will work closely with IRENA to address the challenges that lay for Tonga ahead, including 70% renewable electricity generation by 2030, ensuring energy efficiency is optimized and integrating renewable energy into the country’s transport sector.

“Among the greatest challenges facing the energy transition is garnering private sector involvement which is critical to transition to a sustainable and equitable energy system. This is achievable through supportive policies that facilitate private sector participation.”


In my role as Permanent Representative I have represented Tonga as it embraced IRENA as the key international organisation to support the country’s energy transformation through to 2030. I am also working closely with IRENA Member States who offer technical experiences that Tonga can benefit from.

Among the greatest challenges facing the energy transition is garnering private sector involvement which is critical to successfully transition to a sustainable and equitable energy system. This is achievable through supportive policies that create enabling conditions for private sector participation.

If I could introduce one policy overnight it would ensure that projects in the energy sector were implemented in the best interests of Tonga and that their success is ensured through peer-review by involving development partners and technical experts.

H.E. Honourable 'Akau'ola, Ambassador of Tonga to the UAE, became Tonga’s Permanent Representative to IRENA in December 2019. Recently, His Excellency facilitated the ‘Collaborative Framework on Ocean Energy/Offshore Renewables’ which aims to accelerate and ensure rapid uptake of offshore technologies.

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