Your Highness, Majesty, Heads of State and Government, Mr. President, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, for the warm welcome and the exceptional hospitality extended to myself and my delegation.
It is a real privilege to be asked to say a few words at this important international forum, about how my nation, Gabon, is investing in the future by investing in clean, sustainable energy.
Harnessing the many advantages of energy has been critical to our development since the dawn of humanity. It is and will remain critical for the economic and social transformation of all of our countries.
Unfortunately, the reality is that since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the development of one part of our planet is at the origin of many of the crises facing all of humanity today.
Environmental crises linked to the depletion of natural resources and climate change, that are principally caused by energy generation, are the major challenges to overcome if we are to build a viable future for our planet.
It is in this light that I would like to seize this opportunity to thank the United Nations for declaring 2012 the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All” in the run up to COP 18 in Doha.
The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to sustainable levels is no longer a choice or an option – it is critical if we are to guarantee a future for generations to come.
We have to embrace sustainable development today. It is the choices we make today concerning the energy of tomorrow that will determine the future of our planet.
Doha must achieve a second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol – our Planet’s future is at stake.
In this light, Africa has a great opportunity today. In the context of the deficit of electricity in a continent with such energetic potential, we prefer to think of 2012 as the “International Year for Viable, Sustainable Energy in Africa”.
Today the capacity of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, home to 860 million people, is the equivalent of that of Poland!
Your Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is in our common interest to significantly reduce the energy gap between North and South. The rest of the World cannot develop without Africa, just as Africa cannot develop in isolation. We are linked in a common destiny, even if some are tempted to marginalise the African continent.
As I said recently in Brussels, Africa should not be viewed simply through the lens of its natural resources, nor of its lack of governance.
It is not enough to say that Africa is the rising continent; we need action to ensure that Africa, the cradle of humankind, can develop and offer a sound future to its youth.
It is appropriate, here in Dubai, where a startling vision has been transformed into a global success story that I call for the creation of an African Fund for Energy and Infrastructure.
Gabon is ready and willing to contribute actively to this fund, just as Africa must also contribute actively to the challenge of ensuring the sustainable development of our planet.
Africa needs foreign investment in energy infrastructure, which requires significant levels of capital. In its turn, Africa must improve the business environment through good governance, in order to protect private sector investors.
Your Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen
In Gabon, by voting for my sustainable development manifesto 3 years ago, my fellow citizens chose to test a new model of development that would be richer in opportunities and advantages for future generations.
The support from the Gabonese people, as well as their legitimate aspirations for a better life, has been the impetus for an ambitious program of economic, social and institutional reforms. We are working to promote economic growth whilst optimising environmental integrity.
We have decided that we can no longer rely on our oil and forest resources if we are to offer the Gabonese people a prosperous, sustainable future.
We are counting on “Green Gabon” to generate sustainable growth by harnessing and nurturing our unique natural ecosystems; on “Industrial Gabon” to add value to our natural resources locally; and on “Services Gabon” to develop the human capacity of our country.
These are the three pillars of my ambition to turn Gabon into an emerging country in less than one generation, by 2025.
Investment in the energy sector is a key component of our vision. Lighting up poor rural communities for the first time opens up a myriad of opportunities for people to live better, more stimulating lives.
Putting electricity into schools that were previously in the dark, combined with investment in information technology, will open a world of opportunities to our children.
It is in this context that we are working to double our energy production capacity, which is currently 350 Megawatts, by the end of 2013.
We have engaged a $2.4 billion investment program to develop the country's hydropower potential and to set up an Interconnected National Grid, which will increase energy production to 1200 MW by 2020. Additional local biomass and small run of the river hydro plants will be used to service remote communities.
We are striving to ensure 100% energy access by 2016. Furthermore, it will be 100% clean energy, including 80% from renewable hydropower and the remainder from previously burnt gas and biomass.
As such we are very much aligned with the concept of “Sustainable Energy for All” and we are making concrete strides to make this a reality.
Our hydropower potential is estimated at around 8,000 Megawatts and Gabon aspires to be in a position to export up to 3,000 Megawatts by 2030.
Around $5 billion in investments will be required to develop these additional projects, which represent a significant investment opportunity both for sovereign funds and the private sector alike.
In addition, I have instructed the Government to implement an ambitious National Energy Saving and Efficiency Program, aimed at significantly decreasing the Administration’s energy consumption and ensuring the energy efficiency of our built heritage and infrastructure, as soon as possible.
This strategy is fully integrated into Gabon’s Climate Plan and represents yet another contribution by my country to the environmental viability of our planet.
In light of the social and environmental impacts of the energy sector it is evident that States can no longer simply act locally or regionally.
Humanity is in a phase of planetary transition and we need a structural adjustment in thinking in order to develop a common shared vision for the sustainable development of our planet.
I look forwards to working with all of you to achieve these important goals.
Your Highness, Gabon supports your proposal to declare October 22nd as World Energy Day.