10th Arab Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi
OFID Director-General: “Energy is crucial for the economic integration and growth of Arab countries"

23.12.2014 | PR26/2014 

Vienna, Austria, December 23, 2014. Mr Suleiman J Al-Herbish, Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has pointed out that energy is crucial for the economic integration and growth of Arab countries and that OFID is ready to intensify work with Arab partners and investors to finance more energy projects in the region. 

“The economies of the Arab countries need both integration and growth in order to be able to cope with all the internal and external surrounding challenges. And energy can play a key role in this process, as it is the prime engine of economic growth and social progress,” said Al-Herbish, who was speaking as one of the panelists in the discussion session Investment Requirements to Develop the Energy Sector in Arab Countries, at the 10th Arab Energy Conference, which took place in Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 21-23.

He mentioned the challenge facing some Arab countries in improving energy access for their people. “Many Arab countries are still suffering from energy poverty. In spite of intensive efforts to provide energy services there are still more than 50 million people suffering from lack of electricity or the total absence of it,” Al-Herbish said.

It is in that context that Al-Herbish informed the audience about OFID’s firm belief that human development and energy use were inseparably linked. This belief had received a considerable boost from the Riyadh Declaration of the Third OPEC Summit held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in November 2007, which called upon OFID to continue its efforts in the fight against energy poverty. Al-Herbish commended the role of King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud who proclaimed the Energy for the Poor Initiative in June 2008, and said that OFID and the World Bank should play a leading role. In 2012, OFID’s highest authority, the Ministerial Council, issued a Declaration on Energy Poverty which reiterated OFID’s commitment to energy poverty alleviation programs.

Al-Herbish continued by informing the conference of the many energy projects that OFID had implemented in Arab countries, including Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Yemen, Tunis, Morocco and Palestine. These projects were the concrete results of OFID’s commitment to fighting energy poverty. He expressed OFID’s readiness to intensify work with Arab partners and investors to finance further energy projects. 

Al-Herbish also emphasized that OFID was no longer a mere lending institution. “OFID has become a key participant in the global sustainable development agenda, especially the eradication of energy poverty. It is also part of the international initiative to move from aid effectiveness to development effectiveness,” he said, referring to various international events in which OFID had played a significant role.

Finally, Al-Herbish spoke of OFID’s future plans for its flagship Energy for the Poor program, which would encourage greater involvement from the private sector, a more diversified energy mix, more comprehensive policy to accommodate and encourage cross-border energy projects, and strengthening of the water-food-energy nexus approach.

Al-Herbish headed the OFID delegation to this conference, which was organized by OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries), under the high patronage of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates. Held under the theme “Energy and Arab Cooperation,” the conference discussed—among other subjects—current developments in the oil and natural gas markets and their implications for Arab countries; energy, environment, and sustainable development; energy resources; energy consumption and conservation in Arab Countries.

Read speech in full (Arabic only)