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No sense in re-inventing the wheel, says Caravatti
by Robyn L
Africa / US Energy Ministerial Conference & Women in Energy

Durban, South Africa •• Dec. 15, 2000 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service •• Today, the 5th and final day of the US-Africa Energy Conference, I managed to take 5 minutes with the Senior Adviser to the Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Energy, Marie-Louise Caravatti.

Firstly, what do you think of the US elections that have taken place, and the ensuing chaos?
I think that it was very interesting, and that a lesson was learnt. I also think it shows that any kind of problem can be handled peacefully and diplomatically.

What do you think the key result of this conference was?
I think that this second conference has helped establish and cement links between the African continent and the US. Major issues have been discussed, and we, the US delegation are very pleased with the outcome.

What was the main goal that the US had in mind, coming over to Durban this year?
Well, it was a combination of many ideals. We wanted to see that all agreed to the Women in Energy Declaration. We also wanted ro raise awareness about clean and renewable energy: we are trying to impress the fact that the pressing need for development in Africa shouldn't result in environmental degradation when there are feasible alternatives.

It was suggested by another delegate that the US was coming to this conference with a hidden agenda concerning trade agreements?
Absolutly not. If countries have resources that they wish to exploit, the US encourages that, but there is definitly no hidden agenda!

Calvin Humphrey mentioned a project funded by the US to train African women in energy issues - would you like to elaborate on that prgram?
It is basically an idea to bring promising women over from Africa to Washington DC and to train them in energy issues, focussing on renewable energy. It also aims at encouraging networking and training in managment skills. Basically, we will see what the needs of these women are, then cater for them.

There was mention of the way in which the US transfer skills to countries in which they have implemented projects - would you please tell me a little more about this process?
The US will initiate a project in a country and then form a link with tertiary educational institutions, the universities of the region. These universities will receive the neccessary equipment and training to facilitate training of the people of the country, such as computer programs, and there is ongoing contact between the US and the these universities. There is therefore a good skills base within the country whereby people can learn of the mistakes of first world countries, and not make the same mistakes when developing their rural areas - there is no point in re-inventing the wheel.

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