BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency, today begins a two-day “Bioenergy Investment Symposium for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region” in Sandton, Johannesburg.
The symposium is sponsored by the ACP Business Climate Facility (BizClim), which provides technical assistance for improving the business climate in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean, a statement announcing the symposium has disclosed.
According to NEPAD, the aim of the symposium is to establish a world-class bioenergy investment incubator for Southern Africa and is also indicative of the organisation’s intent to create a platform for member countries to participate in this burgeoning new industry.
The NEPAD Agency, the implementing body of the African Union, says it is keen to efficiently and effectively utilise the vast resources of bioenergy in Africa in a sustainable manner to achieve both energy and food security for the African population, hence the symposium which is expected to bring together some of the leading developers and investors from the bioenergy community, to brainstorm and to come up with concrete steps to drive the development of sustainable bioenergy industry in the Southern Africa region.
Commenting on the two-day conference before its start, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD said; “In the context of world economic crisis and increasing global demand for renewable energy sources, the successful development of a thriving biomass and bioenergy industry in Southern Africa would at once be a catalyst for economic recovery for the region and serve to establish the region as a major global force in the supply of biomass and bioenergy.”
For his part, Gavin Maxwell, Executive Chairman of Ireland’s Coolfin Partnership, who is expected to be the Chairman for the two-day event stated; “We all recognise the opportunity that Africa has to be a leader in the supply of biomass and bioenergy products, but this will not happen without support for innovation and appropriate public and private funding mechanisms,” adding, “We hope that this benchmark symposium will be the catalyst for both.”
NEPAD will also be represented by Professor Mosad Elmissiry, head of the NEPAD Agency’s Energy Programmes, who is expected to provide a situation analysis of the bioenergy in Africa and NEPAD’s strategy for its sustainable development for both food and energy security.
Topics lined up for discussion, according to the organisers, are status of trans-national investment and bottlenecks for capital deployment and asset funding criteria for bioenergy and power in Africa.
Meanwhile, promoters of bioenergy projects in the region will also be given an opportunity to present their business case or pitch for investment or partner cooperation.