Energy, Equity and Development: overcoming challenges across the Commonwealth

Energy, Equity and Development: overcoming challenges across the Commonwealth

Government officials from African Commonwealth nations and Scotland, senior representatives of international energy companies active in sub-Saharan Africa, academic experts, and development partners will meet tomorrow in Glasgow to exchange ideas on achieving equal access to energy for all communities.

The conference on Tuesday July 22 at Barony Hall, Glasgow is being is being jointly organised by the University of Aberdeen Centre for Sustainable International Development and the African Forum Scotland, a Glasgow-based social enterprise which works to recognise excellence for Africans living and working in Scotland.

The event is timed to coincide with the Glasgow 14 Commonwealth Games, and the European launch of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative. The opening address will be given by Ms Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs in the Scottish Government, and the key note address will be made by Dr Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Chief Executive for SE4All  who is travelling from Vienna to brief delegates prior to the formal European launch.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland has a strong track record of supporting communities in Malawi to access sustainable energy and our efforts are making a real difference to people’s lives. We are committed to building on this work through our contribution to the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative, for example by seconding an energy policy expert to the Government of Malawi from the end of this year.

“As the eyes of the world look to Scotland for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Energy Equity Conference will be a chance for us to demonstrate why Scotland is a world leader in renewable energy and climate change policy and a good global citizen, committed to playing our part to tackle poverty and inequality.”  

Dr Kandeh Yumkella said: "We have dedicated the first two years of the decade to highlight the importance of energy for women, children, health and economic empowerment. The world must come together to end energy poverty and prevent the dangerous effects of climate change.”

The University of Aberdeen’s involvement is led by its Centre for Sustainable International Development.  The Centre’s Director, Dr Hilary Homans, explains the purpose of the event: “This is a wonderful opportunity to share experiences from Commonwealth countries about access to energy, especially amongst rural populations, women and children and socially excluded groups.  We look forward to discussing energy equity, the successes achieved, any challenges faced, how best to overcome them and the role of universities.”

Seven African countries will be represented at Ministerial level, along with representatives from High Commissions and other senior level delegates. From the University sector, delegates will include representatives from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, Mount Kenya University, the University of Namibia and the University of the Free State in the Republic of South Africa.

Ian Williamson, Vice-President Contracts and Commercial, for the Aberdeen-based global energy firm Senergy Lloyds Register will speak about ethical energy and the contribution his company is making.

He said: “For success in achieving ethical energy we need government, academia and industry to work together. Industry brings to the table investment, knowledge and technology. The missing gap with industry is capacity building and knowledge exchange which academia can provide.”

Delegates will share and discuss lessons learned from case studies from the African countries participating, and also hear about Energy inequity in Scotland from David Sigsworth, Chair of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and from Rosemary Lindsay Deputy Director of the Scottish Govern International Development Team about the work that they are doing to increase energy access in Malawi.

Further information about SE4ALL can be obtained from www.se4all.org and there is a dedicated Twitter stream #EnergyEquityDevelopment2014

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