70MW of Sustainable Energy for East African Agricultural Industries

Two new renewable energy initiatives were recently launched in the eastern and southern African agricultural sector. The tea and sugar industries will become recipients of clean energy resulting in more than 70MW of decentralized sustainable energy for the region.

Nairobi, November 20, 2007

Two new renewable energy initiatives were recently launched in the eastern and southern African agricultural sector. The tea and sugar industries will become recipients of clean energy resulting in more than 70MW of decentralized sustainable energy for the region.

The East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) will begin a four year initiative to establish six small hydropower demonstration projects in at least four EATTA member countries generating a total of 10MW. The industry will use resources available at tea plantations to power the industry, rather than utilize expensive electrical resources. The project has been endorsed by eight countries in the region, namely: Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Burundi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Meanwhile the sugar industry is also preparing to produce its own electricity and heat in a series of cogeneration projects modeled on the success of biomass cogeneration in Mauritius. The sugar industry's initiative will last six years and is expected to result in the development of 60MW of biomass cogeneration projects. The initiative seeks to significantly scale up the use of efficient cogeneration systems initially in seven Eastern and Southern African countries namely: Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Swaziland.

Both regional initiatives were launched by Kenyan President, H.E. Mwai Kibaki. "With the rising cost of oil in the world market, there is need to develop alternative sources of energy," said President Kibaki in his keynote speech read on his behalf by Vice President, H.E Moody Awori. The President further reiterated the contribution of the two projects to rural electrification. "In Africa, the status of rural electrification remains under 10 %. The small hydropower and cogeneration facilities, when installed, fit perfectly and would contribute to the rural electrification requirements of our region."

The two projects were spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and will be co-implemented by the African Development Bank (ADB). "Tea is known to be good for you, now it is also getting better for the environment," stated UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.

The initiatives are co-financed by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) and ProInvest. REEEP funding for the project was provided by the Government of Ireland which targets sustainable energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. Irish Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley stated that "energy lies at the core of the sustainable development challenge. Energy is essential for development and economic growth, yet our conventional energy systems are having a serious negative impact on our environment, as emphasized by the IPCC recently, and our environment's potential to sustain that development and growth. Ireland is proud to support REEEP's initiatives in Africa, which will ensure that social and economic development is consistent with minimizing climate change."

The contributions from the Irish Government enable REEEP to support projects in eastern and southern Africa, including Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Echoing support for the initiatives, Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan stated that "the development of sustainable energy programmes throughout Africa is to be commended. The REEEP initiatives tie in with Ireland's and my own personal commitment to the interlinking challenges of development and climate change. Both are global justice issues and any work we can undertake which will enable African countries to develop while in keeping with the sustainable agenda are to be warmly welcomed. I would like to congratulate REEEP for this activity and only hope that these types of projects are replicated throughout the developing world."

The launch was followed by a two-day REEEP sponsored training workshop on "Financing Cogeneration and Small-Hydro Projects in the Sugar and Tea Industry in East and Southern Africa". The workshop provided industry representatives with a clear understanding of the barriers to financing renewable energy and energy efficiency in the tea and sugar industries; provided a comprehensive grasp of the risks associated with lending to sugar and tea industries for energy projects and how to mitigate these risks; and increased awareness among financial institutions and investors of the opportunities for financing REEES in agro-industries and options for managing risks.

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