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Rural Electrification: a Unique Perspective from Mozambique
by Andrew B
US / Africa Energy Ministers Conference
source: Village Power 2000

Tucson, AZ •• Dec. 15, 1999 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service ••

Target Areas for Cooperation, Rural Electrification and Energy Supply: "Urgent action, involving cooperation of government, public and private sectors, and multilateral institutions, to increase the means of production and access to affordable energy and to bring clean and cost effective energy systems to Africa’s rural areas using grid-connected and off-grid technologies, self contained systems, and end-use technologies." [Courtesy of U.S. Africa Energy Ministers Meeting—Joint Statement on Sustainable Energy Development and Cooperation in Support of the Environment]

This is a statement of cooperation that was recently agreed upon by Energy Ministers from the continent of Africa at the U.S.-Africa Energy Ministers Conference in Tucson, Arizona. This statement, like many others devised and agreed upon at the conference, has shown the willingness of the African nations to participate in and advocate cooperation in promoting economic development and supporting the implementation of environmentally safe and affordable energy supplies for all citizens of Africa. I had the opportunity to speak with Energy Minister Arsenio Mabote from Mozambique. I asked him to elaborate, in his opinion, the most importing thing that has come out of this energy conference. He replied, “African countries are understanding that the only way to solve the energy problem is to come to a common understanding about the energy needs facing the continent, and work together to solve those problems.” Mr. Mabote also said, “It was an ideal move by the United States Government to put African countries together at one place.”

Rural electrification is an energy issue that has been addressed and recognized by the South African governments as a national concern. Since 1994, electrification programs have increased electrification by twenty nine percent. Mozambique, a country in South Africa, is faced with efficiently carrying out its rural-electrification program. Approximately eighty percent of its residents burn firewood for heat because there is no continuous electrical source. U.S. companies are currently doing business in Mozambique. Arco Corporation is involved in natural gas development.

Among other business addressed was at the conference was the Ministers development of a Statement of Investment Principles. The purpose of the statement is to produce a guideline to aid in the attraction of private investment to the basic energy infrastructure sector, help governments promote sustainable development, and support regional cooperation. The following investment principles were agreed upon:

1. Create or sustain transparent, independent, and stable regulatory and legal frameworks, based on rule of law and sanctity of contracts

2. Contribute to macro-economic policies that encourage investments in the energy sector and allow for close collaboration with international financial institutions

3. Strive for continued good governance in the energy sector

4. Work to achieve an integrated regional strategy for Africa’s energy infrastructure in the 21st century

5. Work cooperatively with the private sector and international financial institutions

6. Promote the rational use of resources, good corporate citizenship, and protection of the environment

7. Foster understanding, cooperation, and trust between the public and private sectors (Investment Principles courtesy of U.S. Africa Energy Ministers Meeting—Joint Statement on Sustainable Energy Development and Cooperation in Support of the Environment)

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