Mr Chairman Ministers Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen
It is always a pleasure to follow the remarks of Dr Yumkella. I should like to thank him for his inspiring words regarding the Initiative of the UN Secretary-General – also for his energetic and effective co-chairmanship of the High Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All.
Ladies and Gentlemen, when preparing my comments for this session I recalled the wise counsel of our gracious host, His Highness the Emir of Kuwait, whom I had the honour to meet in May 2006.
I was advised that the OPEC Fund for International Development should pay special attention to the least developed countries and especially Africa.
This good advice reminds us that the first priority as we work towards sustainable energy is universal access. Out of the 1.3 billion people living without the most basic of modern energy services, nearly 600 million are in Africa.
So in my remarks today I should like to emphasise that the Initiative of the Secretary-General, is indeed “for All”.
These two short words are sometimes overlooked but for OFID working towards universal energy access for the poor is the essential part of the Initiative.
Our priority is always those many millions of people still reliant on fuelwood, candles and batteries for their daily cooking, light and contact with the outside world.
OFID, we have been financing energy projects since our inception in 1976.
These efforts received greater impetus following the Riyadh Declaration endorsed by OPEC Member Countries’ Heads of State in November 2007. This Declaration provided OFID with a new mandate, by calling on us to work towards the eradication of energy poverty together with other institutions and the energy industry. This was followed, in June 2008, by the “Energy for the Poor” Initiative launched by King Abdullah at the Jeddah Energy Meeting.
Since the Riyadh Declaration, OFID has increased the share of energy projects in total operations. In 2011 this share reached 25% as a wide variety of operations were approved:
- These include public sector projects to finance electricity generation in Bangladesh and Nicaragua and funds to help extend the national grid to rural parts of Ethiopia, the Gambia and Kenya.
- The OFID private sector facility will part-finance a large scale wind project in Pakistan and a greenfield power plant in Kenya.
- Our trade finance facility provides assistance to help finance vital imports of oil and petroleum products for Bangladesh.
- In 2011 OFID added a new energy facility to our Grants window. Grants will support small-scale projects in rural areas such as our cooperation with the Shell Foundation to improve the distribution of solar lighting.
- Grants were also approved to 3 innovative projects in Cambodia, Tanzania and Ethiopia. These projects will provide affordable energy to a total of 40,000 people living in rural areas.
- As you see, Ladies and Gentlemen, OFID has truly embraced the inclusive message of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative: Our activity extends to all regions of the world, finances all types of cleaner and efficient technologies and we cooperate with all varieties of financial partners without imposing any conditionality.
- OFID is technology neutral. Renewable solutions are appropriate where endowments and geography permit but we also value the contribution of fossil fuels. Natural gas, LPG and diesel fuels are important elements of energy supply in developing countries. It will take years before renewable solutions can provide cost-effective productive power to all locations. We cannot deprive poorer countries of energy for development during this transitional period.
- We are practical and effective. There is sometimes a gap between what is promised and what is delivered. In today’s uncertain financial climate, the value of a reliable development partner cannot be overestimated.
Going forward, OFID plans to expand and in this context, let me thank the OPEC Member Countries represented here today.
In June 2011 the OFID Ministerial Council endorsed our fourth replenishment in the amount of US$1 billion. This is the first replenishment in thirty years and it will greatly enhance our ability to work against energy poverty.
These increased resources will be further leveraged by our cooperation with the Coordination Group of Arab National and Regional institutions and also international institutions including the World Bank and IFAD. Such strategic partnerships will combine our various strengths to produce better results on the ground.
In addition to expanding our financing, OFID is committed to raise the profile of energy poverty in the development debate.
Sustained advocacy from OFID and other institutions has pushed energy poverty up the international agenda. Political leadership is a key requirement for tackling energy poverty.
Heads of government and ministers should support pro-energy policies. National Plans and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers should include explicit targets for access and power supply capacity.
The energy industry can also do more. In the recent World Petroleum Congress in Doha, I addressed IOCs and NOCs and called for greater efforts to include energy poverty as a core element in social responsibility programmes. Such initiatives would make a significant contribution to human development and advance both the credibility and commercial interests of the industry.
Let me underline that the voice of the international community can also make a difference – consider the Millennium Development Goals which have played a vital part in boosting social provision in many developing countries.
We should build on the success of the MDGs as we go forward to the Rio+20 Summit in three months time. We should take advantage of the momentum provided by the Sustainable Energy for All and other initiatives to promote energy access in a comparable way.
Let me remind you that the Concluding Statement of the 12th IEF confirmed the commitment of Energy Ministers who stated that reducing energy poverty should be added as the 9th Millennium Development Goal. This was important recognition of our mission and was greatly valued by those working to advance energy access. Unfortunately it was not possible to add this MDG.
At the same Ministerial, Mr Nobuo Tanaka, the former Executive Director of the IEA, underlined that energy poverty must be addressed alongside energy security and climate change.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Rio provides a new opportunity which must not go to waste.
We must be ambitious and urge that Universal Energy Access by 2030 should be recognised as a Sustainable Development Goal by the United Nations Community.
Such recognition would anchor energy access as an important part of the post-2015 development agenda.
Visibility at Summit Level would provide genuine motivation for governments, the private sector and civil society to turn good intentions into solid achievement. Certainly the many millions of people living in energy poverty deserve nothing less.
I look forward to discussing these ideas during the remainder of this Session. I thank you for your attention.