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Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week goes in full swing with three major events

By Omar Obeidat - Jan 21,2014 - Last updated at Jan 21,2014

ABU DHABI — Thousands of energy experts, environmentalists, industry leaders and government delegates from over 150 countries are in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), which officially started Monday.

The opening ceremony of the event was attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the presence of heads of states from various countries, particularly from Africa.

This year’s ADSW featured three major events, the 7th edition of the 2014 World Future Energy Summit (WFES), the EcoWASTE summit — a conference and an exhibition on sustainable waste management that was held for the first time — and the International Water Summit.

The event is being held at the prestigious Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The ADSW is hosted by Masdar, which is a commercially driven energy company based in Abu Dhabi and is a subsidiary of the government-owned Mubadala Development Company.

Masdar’s core mission is to invest in clean energy industry in the UAE and around the world.

The opening ceremony’s theme focused on Africa’s energy challenges and how they impede the region’s economic development.

The topic of Africa was highlighted during a panel discussion that brought together Senegal President Macky Sall, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. It was moderated by Adnan Amin, the director general of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).  

In his speech at the opening ceremony, Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE minister of state and the chief executive officer of Masdar, indicated that with six of the 10 fastest growing economies of the past decade located in sub-Saharan Africa “the development opportunities in this region are tremendous”.

“But these economies are also hampered by energy industries beset by high costs, poor reliability and often limited or no access to the grid,” Al Jaber said, stressing that access to clean technologies will enable developing economies to obtain efficient technologies and will allow them to adopt and scale the advanced technologies emerging on the market today.

“Providing safe, reliable and sustainable energy in sub-Saharan Africa, and in developing countries across the world, relies on our ability to rethink the energy sector,” he added, emphasising the importance of meeting the increasing energy demand worldwide through green technologies and sustainable solutions.

Amin noted that Africa is seeing a sustained growth rates as it has been one of the fastest growing regions in the past decade with an expected economic growth rate of 5 - 6 per cent annually in the coming years.

Sall described Africa as the “continent of future” as it holds large opportunities for renewable energy including his country.

He called on rich countries and private sector to consider Africa as an important partner in the global sustainable economic development.

“Africa is now prepared to move forward,” said Koroma. “Africa should not be defined by what has happened in the past.”

“The issues that are…sadly happening in South Sudan should not be used to define what is Africa. We now have countries with governments committed to transparency and good governance,” he added.

“There is much potential in hydro, geothermal and wind energy — resources that must be harvested not only for Ethiopia, but for all of Africa,” said the Ethiopian premier.

According to IRENA, despite the continent’s growing stability, impressive macroeconomic statistics and growing middle class, more than 600 million Africans still lack safe and reliable access to electricity.

A recent report by the international agency, pointed out that sub-Saharan Africa will need an additional 250 gigawatts of power by 2030 in order to meet the demands of future population and economic growth. Currently electricity blackouts and dependence on pricey diesel fuel generation costs many African economies from 1 - 5 per cent of annual gross domestic product.

The report said that solar energy, however, has huge renewable energy potential throughout the continent, and wind power is virtually untapped.

More than 30,000 people are taking part in ADSW, which is the Middle East’s largest gathering focused on addressing the challenges affecting energy, water and sustainable development.

A total of 800 companies from 40 countries are exhibiting their technologies in the event. 

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