Astana EXPO 2017

06.09.2017 | Astana, Kazakhstan

Statement of OFID Director-General Suleiman J Al-Herbish at the Astana EXPO 2017 delivered on September 6, 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

Warmest greetings on the occasion of OFID’s National Day at the ASTANA EXPO 2017.

We are honored to participate in this EXPO. OFID fully appreciates the efforts of the institutions and countries here to make this event a great success. We are especially grateful to the government of Kazakhstan for its excellent organization and the hospitality we have received.

Kazakhstan is a nation that shares several attributes with many Member Countries of the institution I lead: the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the sister organization of OPEC.

Both organizations share a noble mission. OFID’s mandate, as I will explain, is to support socio-economic development in developing countries across the globe. OPEC’s mandate is to support oil market stability for the benefit of producers and consumers across the globe.

And now I would like to thank the government of Kazakhstan for the political promise they made last year: to work with other non-OPEC countries – and OPEC – toward a stable oil market. I commend the government of Kazakhstan for this commitment and for its continued cooperation.

I will now introduce OFID and explain the part the organization plays in supporting sustainable development and access to energy for all.

OFID was conceived at the Conference of the Sovereigns and Heads of State of the Member Countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, held in Algeria, in March 1975.

The developing OPEC countries reaffirmed their solidarity with other developing countries in their struggle to overcome underdevelopment, and called for measures to strengthen cooperation.

In this spirit, OFID was established in January 1976 to foster south-south partnership with fellow developing countries worldwide, with the aim of eradicating poverty.

Since inception, OFID’s commitments have totaled over US$20 billion. This amount finances operations in education, health, agriculture, rural development, energy, transport, water, industry and communications. The organization has a presence in 134 countries—53 are in Africa, 43 in Asia, 31 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 7 are in Europe.

This Expo’s theme—Future Energy—reflects one of the most important of today’s global priorities: ensuring everyone has access to energy.

OFID has been instrumental in ensuring that energy is now recognized as a priority in its own right in the current development landscape after being ignored by the Millennium Development Goals. Sustainable Development Goal 7 prioritizes affordable and clean energy.

This is at the very core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Access to energy is essential for economic growth, employment, education, poverty reduction, and health and safety. It has been the central theme of our work since 2007, when OFID received a special mandate from the Riyadh Declaration of the 3rd OPEC Summit. Since then, we have intensified our energy poverty alleviation initiatives.

To address the challenges of energy access, we work on three fronts:

First, there is our never-ending advocacy—we build awareness and momentum across the globe.

Second, we fund important development projects on the ground in some of the least developed regions of the world where finance would otherwise be hard to find.

And third, we build strong alliances by working with our strategic partners in support of all 17 SDGs.

Since 2008, OFID has committed more than US$3.6 billion to supporting energy projects across the globe. By working with our partners—bilateral, regional and multilateral development institutions—we have leveraged more than US$24 billion in support of more than 180 operations in over 70 countries.

But there is still much work to be done. More than one billion people still live without electricity. Another three billion rely on wood or other biomass for cooking and heating, resulting in air pollution that causes about 4.3 million deaths each year.

EXPO 2017 represents a new and valuable contribution to the urgent global dialogue on energy. Platforms like this serve to inform, inspire and innovate: to foster participation and the exchange of ideas; and importantly, to come up with solutions that OFID, with its partners, stands ready to fund.

I would like to reiterate my thanks to our hosts: the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Finally, I would like to invite you all to OFID’s exhibition in the International Organizations Plaza this afternoon. We will host a panel discussion on energy and development, featuring some leading industry experts.

Please come and contribute to the debate. Thank you.