Irish help to finance African cogeneration project

By Sarah Smith
A sustainable energy initiative in Africa's agricultural regions will enable the sugar industry to become more energy independent. The plan involves developing several biomass cogeneration plants as part of a six-year plan that will fuel sugar plantations. In all, 11 African countries will benefit from these projects, designed to reduce dependence on the nation's expensive electrical resources, which are currently powered by foreign oil.

In the sugar recovery process, the fibrous bagasse is burned to meet the heat and electricity requirements of the cane factories, which even return electricity to various power grids. The enterprise is financed by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership and ProInvest. The REEEP is an international enabler of global markets for sustainable energy, focusing on developing countries and transitional economies. Its share of the funding for the rural electrification projects was provided by the government of Ireland, which targets sub-Saharan African countries to implement sustainable energy initiatives.

Eamon Ramon, Irish minister for communications, energy and natural resources, said Ireland is committed to "the interlinking challenges of [social and economic] development and climate change." He called those challenges "global justice issues."

ProInvest is a partnership between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific Rim countries that promotes investment and technology in those regions.
Both the REEEP and ProInvest work with governments, businesses, industries and financiers to promulgate a global market for renewable energies, energy-efficient technologies and energy legislation.

Kenyan President H.E. Mwai Kibaki, who spearheaded the African initiative, noted the rising cost of oil and his nation's substandard efforts in rural electrification as the main reasons for seeking outside assistance.