UNEP poised to stir green energy
revolution in E. Africa
Nov 8, 2007 - The Associated Press
A U.N.-backed initiative is set to harvest
environment-friendly hydroelectric power from millions
of tea and sugar cane growers across East Africa,
U.N. officials said Thursday.
In two separate but related projects,
both tea and sugar cane farmers will benefit, the
U.N. Environment Program officials said.
Sugar farmers will take part in a cogeneration
project funded by the Global Environment Facility.
They will use waste from the sugar industry to generate
electricity, which in turn will fuel economic and
rural growth in an environmentally safer way.
The initiative, the first of its kind
in Africa, will introduce small-scale energy appliances
that allow farmers in seven African countries to access
The officials said by using hydroelectric
power plants in tea plantations and turning the waste
produced by sugar cane into power, the new projects
will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while spreading
clean energy to rural areas in East and southern Africa.
"Those who enjoy a spoonful of sugar
in their favorite day-time drink have double-cause
to celebrate," said Stephen Karekezi, a director of
Cogeneration for Africa, a UNEP/GEF-sponsored project.
These projects build on the successes
with the cogeneration in the Indian Ocean island of
Mauritius, where up to 40 percent of the country's
electricity needs are met by waste by-products from
the sugar industry, the officials said.
"Tea is known to be good for you, now
it is also getting better for the environment," said
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "The decision
by some countries in East Africa to establish contracts
that allow unconventional generators of electricity
to sell surplus power back to the Grid has opened
up a raft of new opportunities for cleaner and renewable
The projects, experts said, offer the
chance to develop new forms of indigenous energy generation
that will assist with the development in rural areas
and help overcome poverty, reduce dependency on often-imported
and expensive fossil fuels while having the spin-off
benefit of contributing to the reduction of greenhouse
As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
the hydropower will reduce energy costs, enhance the
African tea industry's global competitiveness, and
spread clean electricity to rural communities, the
In December, governments will meet in
Bali to define rules for a new international framework
for emissions reductions as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol
is due to expire at the end of 2012.
The $100 million initiative is being
spearheaded by UNEP in collaboration with the African
Development Bank and with funding from the Global
Among the countries that have already
endorsed the initiative are Burundi, Kenya, Malawi,
Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.