|On this, the first day of the US/Africa Energy Conference, I had the oppurtunity to meet some prominent and interesting personalities. I introduced myself to Professor Julia Gitobu this morning. Prof. Gitobu is the Regional Director of the international organization, Winrock. Winrock is a company that focusses on providing clean energy for rural areas, such as solar power. This, in turn, directy benefits women, as women are prime consumers of energy. Winrock is also involved in contributing to efficient agricultural practices, providing hybrid seeds and similar boosts to cultivation in Kenya and East Africa. Winrock is also focussing its energies throughout Africa, with the Southern African focuss being on energy. Winrock is also turning its attention to gender training and the empowerment of women, with the focuss here referring to involvement and participation within communities.
One of the most charismatic speakers attending this conference is Yvette Stevens. Ms Stevens is the Special Coordinator for Africa within the Department of Social and Economic Affairs with the United Nations. She believes, as do many of the delegates, that women have been unincluded concerning descisions made with reference to energy policy. She finds this particularly absurd as women are the gender that use the most energy. She contributes to global awareness of African issues.
Paul White is a South African representative for the American Embassy. Mr White works in conjunction with this embassy and gives the South African perspective on relevant issues such as energy. He believes the main aim of the United States, with refernece to this conference, is to facilitate growth. Concerning the private sector, the USA is aiming to facilitate growth where the oppurtunity arises, and where feasible. When asked if the USA was targeting specific African countries, Mr White mentioned South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt because they are the largest, but stressed that the USA would only become involved when asked to, and their aim was not to interfere in the internal politics of other countries.
An interesting contrast to the above paragraph can be seen in Robert Maake's statement. Mr Maake is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Minerals and Energy Policy Centre, stationed in Johannesburg. When asked his opinion of what he was looking for as an outcome of this conference, he claimed he wanted a firm commitment from the United States. Mr Maake said that Africa needed guidance as to how to deal with energy issues and the problem of rural underdevelopment.