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EU backs UN `power to all` initiative

20th April 2012
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The Secretary General of United Nations Ban Ki Moon has announced a new sustainable energy initiative which would see people worldwide connected with power by the year 2030.

This was said in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday by the Minister for Energy and Minerals William Ngeleja who attended an international conference on sustainable energy for all in Brussels, Belgium.

The meeting organised by the European Union through its Commission attracted 500 participants across the world. Tanzania was represented by Minister Ngeleja, Ummy Mwalimu who is the deputy minister for Community Development, Gender and Children and other senior government officials.

Minister Ngeleja said the meeting had three objectives namely ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement of energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

He said the conference agreed that every country including Tanzania should establish its own initiatives to reach the goal. It is expected that the imitative would help women and children who are most vulnerable to power.

“We Tanzania have already started some initiatives. It is my hope the goal will be reached within specified time frame,” he said.

He said the government has already launched a five year energy strategic plan which would see the number of people who access power reach 30 percent. Currently it is estimated that only 12 percent of Tanzanians have access to electricity.

According to him the plan would see the amount of energy in the national grid increase to 3,000 megawatts. He said Tanzania has a lot of alternative sources of power, which when fully used would increase the number of people connected to the power.

Apart from connection, he said the cost of electricity connection to the house hold would also go down.

“It is our expectation that if we manage to use all alternative sources of power the price of electricity connection will be affordable to many Tanzanians,” he added.

Minister Ngeleja added participation of women in energy issues would reduce the number of deaths due to the use of poor source of energy for cooking and other activities.

“The energy policy recognises women’s role in energy. It is our hope that the number of deaths will go down,” he noted.

It is estimated that 1.5million people world wide die every year due to the use of charcoal and firewood which produces carbon dioxide.

He was optimistic that the EU had agreed to support implementation of the initiative particularly for the African countries.

He said Tanzania would benefit from the Brussels conference in various areas including grants and loans to implement projects, technical assistance, preparation and improvement of policies, laws and institutional set up.

The European Commission has undertaken to support sustainable energy services to 500 million people in poorer countries by 2030.

At the summit European Commission President Jose Barroso announced the new Energising Development initiative, saying: "Investing in access to clean energy will help developing countries to create jobs, markets, and ensure sustainable growth."

"While one part of the planet lives in the digital era and in the times of digital communication, the other part has still no access to basic electricity, power or energy," said Barroso.

With one billion euros invested in global energy projects over the last five years, the EU is already "the first global donor in this area," said Barroso, but more is needed to help meet the globally agreed Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty and build sustainable development by 2015.

As part of the Energizing Development initiative, Barroso announced that over the next two years the EU will create a Technical Assistance Facility worth 50 million euros, using EU experts to foster technical expertise in developing countries. "This will help those developing countries that opt in to the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative and commit to the necessary reforms to catalyze and leverage investment," Barroso said. "Because it is clear that aid alone is not enough, we need the private sector on board and a strong commitment of our partner countries."

The EU and its 27 Member States will also contribute a further "several hundred million Euros" to boost concrete new investments and projects in sustainable energy for developing countries.

The summit was held in support of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative created by Ban Ki-moon dubbed the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, as declared by all UN Member States.

Speaking in Brussels, the UN secretary-general commended the European Union "for making energy central to its development policies, and for advancing the issue of energy access, along with renewable and energy efficiency, to the forefront of the global development agenda."

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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