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Thursday, 14 November 2013

Africa Energy Experts Convene in Denver

Press Release

Contact: Dr. Luka Powanga

“Africa Energy Experts Convene in Denver”

Access to affordable, reliable, clean and economically viable energy supply is essential to Africa's economic growth and human development. Africa is well endowed in energy resources and has the potential to develop these resources to help create, grow and maintain vibrant global economies.

On November 7-8, 2013, hundreds of executives, policy makers and thought leaders from the private sector, national governments, non-government organizations, and academia from across the globe met at Colorado School of Mines in Golden Colorado (near Denver) for the Annual Energy Africa Conference to dialog, collaborate, encourage, invest in and support the work needed to supply clean, reliable and affordable energy in Africa. 
The focus of the conference was on President Barack Obama’s recently announced “Power Africa” initiative, and how Africa can leverage the synergy between natural gas and renewable energy sources to meet the current and future energy demand and the business opportunities inherent in the effort.

Prominent speakers and delegates included, Dr. Bill Scoggins, the President of Colorado School of Mines, Melvin Foote, the President and CEO of the Constituency for Africa in Washington, Michael Masserman, Executive Director for Export Policy and Strategy, United States Department of Commerce, Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl , the Austrian Ambassador to China and Mongolia, Honorable Liberata Mulamula, the Tanzanian Ambassador to the United Stated, Honorable Palan Mulonda, the Zambian Ambassador to the United States, Honorable Jesca Eriyo, the Deputy Secretary of the East African Community based in Arusha Tanzania,  Michael McKelvy the president of Ch2Mhill, Dr. Ogunlade Davidson, the former Minister of Energy in Sierra Leone and now the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Sierra Leone, Laetitia Mulamula, the Vice President of the Eastern Africa Diaspora Business Council, Professor F.D. Yamba, the Director for the Center for Energy Environment and Engineering in Lusaka, Zambia, Dr. Robert Stoner, the Deputy Director at the MIT Energy Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Co-Director of the Tata Center for Technology and Design and Christian Burgsmueller, the legal counsel for the European Union delegation to the United States.  Major corporation and institutions such as General Electric, Shell, the World Bank, Holland and Hart, Anadarko, EnCana Oil and Gas, Noble Energy, Regis University, Denver University, the World Trade Center, the ONE Campaign, and the Colorado Office of Economic Development were represented. 

The speakers highlighted the need to establish an energy infrastructure that meets the energy demand in Africa to ensure the current economic growth is maintained or even enhanced and how the synergy between natural gas and renewables could be leveraged to meet this objective.

With the help of several examples, honorable Liberata Mulamula, Palan Mulonda and Jesca Eriyo emphasized the business and investment opportunities available in the Energy Sector in Africa. They cited many areas of collaboration including the private-public partnership and how the issues of investment constraints that had in the past plagued the continent have been removed to catalyze investment and growth. Michael Masserman focused on the role that the Power Africa initiative will play in enhancing energy development in Africa and the business opportunities that this initiative presents.  Melvin Foote, the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Constituency on Africa stressed the importance of diaspora in the Energy infrastructure development in Africa.  He also stressed that companies wanting to do business in Africa, need to take into consideration the thoughts, ideas and aspirations of the next generation, who will be reluctant to accept corrupt business practices of the past.

The Energy Africa conference was well received by participants.  Hellen Kassa, with the Silicon Valley Technology Partners remarked,  “Thank you so much for putting together such an amazing conference. I honestly learned so much and was impressed at the level of diversity not only in speakers and attendees but at the topics covered and the level of expertise each speaker possessed”.   Leroy Wilson, a New York Attorney thanked the conference organizers for “doing an outstanding job!”   Dr. Ogunlade Davidson echoed these observations, “This well organized event provided an excellent opportunity to meet our American friends working on the same issues and this should continue as that will contribute greatly towards providing sustainable energy for all in Africa”.  Ambassador Irene Reichl remarked that “What made "Energy Africa" very special for me is that it draws on the hands-on experience of many experts from the energy sector and this enriches the dialogue on energy and sustainable development in an important fashion.”    Hon. Jesca Eriyo summed her experience at the conference: "The Energy Africa conference brought together academicians, experts, practitioners, CEO/business persons, and African Diaspora in the Minerals, Petroleum/Oil and Gas, power sectors as well as students. It was really enriching to listen to and participate in a very lively discussion throughout the conference, and to notice the enormous interest in investing in the Energy sector in Africa.”

Conference organizer Dr. Luka Powanga, who teaches at Regis University in Denver and operates a strategic consulting firm, “The Powanga Group”, was very pleased with the outcome of the conference.  Dr. Powanga noted that the conference highlighted the fact that Africa is clearly emerging and changing rapidly both in terms of economic growth and development and improved business environment.  Said Dr. Powanga, “Business opportunities for American energy companies are abundant in all aspects of energy development on the continent.  We are looking forward to playing a useful and pragmatic role in helping to build a strong US Africa energy partnership going forward”