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Building Energy Bridges to Africa: Partnerships in the New Millenium
by Andrew B
US / Africa Energy Ministers Conference

Tucson, AZ •• Dec. 14, 1999 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service •• “Black and women empowerment are cornerstones of South Africa’s economic policy” were the words echoed by South Africa’s Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs Phumzile Mlambo Ngucka at a conference luncheon today. The US Africa Energy Ministers Conference: A Partnership for the 21st Century is a three-day event being held this week in Tucson, Arizona. Co-sponsored by the Department of Energy and the city of Tucson, the conference has attracted fifty three ministers and countless ambassadors from all over the continent of Africa to discuss their country’s energy needs and concerns, and more importantly, to strengthen US involvement in Africa’s economic development in the coming century. Africa, a country with vast natural resources-among them oil, gold, and diamonds-has found itself in a dire position in terms of its ability to provide continuous, environmentally safe energy to all of its citizens. Carolyn Haylock-White, a Department of Energy official in Tucson this week as one of the conference developers, believes that “conferences like these help the United States and the Clinton Administration to further solidify its commitment to helping Africa in the areas of education, energy, and economic development.

The United States government is involved in safe energy research and development-such as solar, wind, and hydro-energy projects-that help the African countries to realize their energy potential. In addition to government involvement in African energy concerns, private sector companies, such as Exxon, Shell, and Chevron, are involved in energy projects in many of the countries in Africa. Currently, Chevron is involved in building an eight hundred-mile underwater gas pipeline from Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire to provide electrical energy to the residents of Cote d’Ivoire. The pipeline will be co-owned by the countries that the pipeline will be passing through-Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and his staff are working diligently to ensure this conference is a success. Other keynote speakers present at the conference were the Honorable Rodney Ellis, a senator from Texas, Arizona State University president Dr. Peter Likins, and David L. Goldwyn, Assistant Secretary for International Affairs. The Barbea Williams Performing Arts Company provided entertainment. In an interview following the luncheon, the director of the company-Barbea Williams-said, “Africa is a country rich in culture and natural resources. Through the celebration of African culture, we accomplish several goals: educating the public about African art and culture and developing a sense of pride and respect in and for our African heritage.”

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