WAM Abu Dhabi, 20th Jan. 2014 (WAM) – His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, today inaugurated the seventh World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and second International Water Summit during the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).
Attracting more than 30,000 people, ADSW is the Middle East’s largest gathering focused on addressing the interconnected challenges affecting energy, water and sustainable development.
His Highness welcomed guests to the Summit, including presidents and government officials from African nations. The opening ceremony’s theme focused on Africa’s energy challenges and how they impede the region’s economic development. The topic of Africa – and its potential to ‘leapfrog’ technologies and grow its economy – was highlighted during a panel discussion that united Macky Sall, President of Senegal; Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone; and Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
Commenting on the opening ceremony, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed emphasized Africa’s tremendous opportunity to adopt sustainable development as a pathway to grow its economy, while protecting its natural resources. His Highness also underscored that the United Arab Emirates, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Kalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, is committed to delivering energy – new and traditional – as a fundamental pillar to ensuring global economic growth and security.
His Highness further commented that energy – the backbone of economic growth – plays an even more important role in arid climates where water security is dependent on energy-intensive desalination. Without achieving long-term energy and water security, sustainable development cannot be achieved, continued His Highness.
His Highness also commended Masdar, and its projects, for extending the UAE’s energy leadership and solidifying the country’s strong position on the ‘renewable energy map.’ The UAE will also continue to diversify its own energy sources, while advancing viable clean technologies, in an effort to improve energy security and achieve sustainable development, added His Highness.
The focus on sub-Saharan Africa’s energy and economic challenges during the opening ceremony aligns with the international agenda for 2014. The United Nations’ “Decade of Sustainable Energy for All” began this year and calls upon member states to ensure universal access to more sustainable sources of energy are a priority for national policies. The declaration also calls upon governments, companies and civil society to work together to achieve universal energy access, double the global energy efficient rate and double the share of renewables in the global energy mix.
“With six of the 10 fastest growing economies of the past decade located in sub-Saharan Africa the development opportunities in this region are tremendous,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. “But these economies are also hampered by energy industries beset by high costs, poor reliability and often limited or no access to the grid.
“Providing safe, reliable and sustainable energy in sub-Saharan Africa, and in developing countries across the world, relies on our ability to rethink the energy sector,” continued Dr. Al Jaber. “Access to clean technologies will allow developing economies to ‘leapfrog’ the inefficient technologies of yesterday, allowing them to rapidly adopt and scale the advanced technologies emerging on the market today. These new industries will have the most opportunity for growth and the most impact in the developing world.” However, despite the continent’s growing stability, impressive macroeconomic statistics and growing middle class, more than 600 million Africans still lack safe and reliable access to electricity.
“Africa is a continent that is moving and changing, blessed with a dynamic population and youth, and natural resources that are important to its future growth. Paradoxically, despite its potential, Africa suffers from drawbacks that hinder its swift development,” said Macky Sall, President of Senegal. “Therefore, we need an energy mix that is sustainable for nations that do not produce oil, like Senegal.” “Ethiopia sees there is a huge global challenge because of rising greenhouse gas emissions. Even though Africa contributes negligible emissions compared to the rest of the world, we have opted for a green climate friendly vision for our future,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. “There is much potential in hydro, geothermal, and wind energy-resources that must be harvested not only for Ethiopia, but for all of Africa.” According to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, sub-Saharan Africa will need an additional 250 gigawatts of power by 2030 in order to meet the demands of future population and economic growth. Currently electricity blackouts and dependence on pricey diesel fuel generation costs many African economies from one to five per cent of annual GDP. Solar energy, however, has huge renewable energy potential throughout the continent, and wind power is virtually untapped. The lack of a conventional energy infrastructure, therefore, actually permits African economies to invest in clean, safe and renewable sources of energy-electrifying the continent cost-effectively and with minimal carbon emissions.
“Africa shouldn’t be defined by what happened in the past. We now have countries with governments committed to transparency and good governance,” said His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone Africa. “And at the same time, Africa is going to be the place where clean energy technologies are going to scale and encourage sustainable development. That is why I believe conferences like these are welcome developments for continents like Africa to be market.” The World Future Energy Summit, now in its seventh year, is the world’s foremost event dedicated to the advancement of renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. The conference programme and exhibition will engage political, business, finance, academic and industry leaders on the deployment of renewable energy, the business opportunities within the renewables sector and the need to continue to drive innovation and investment in order to diversify the global energy mix. More than 650 exhibiting companies have registered to show demonstrate their products and services during the event.
Also part of ADSW, is the second edition of International Water Summit (IWS) and the EcoWASTE exhibition, taking place for the first time this year.
IWS, in its second year, will address water scarcity, sustainable strategies and emerging water technologies in arid regions, the future challenges of water availability and promote international collaboration on water governance to address the water-energy nexus.
EcoWASTE, in partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Centre of Waste Management, will highlight progress in waste-to-energy technology and discuss its widespread adoption as a viable long-term contributor to a balanced energy approach.
Through Masdar, and global platforms like ADSW, Abu Dhabi has emerged as an international energy hub, promoting the adoption of sustainable development, renewable energy and raising awareness to the growing challenge of water scarcity.