8 November 2007 The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced the launch of a pair of projects worth some $100 million in the tea and sugar industries designed to boost the use of clean energy and stimulate development in Africa.
Both projects aim to develop new forms of local energy generation to help rural areas overcome poverty, cut dependency on imported and expensive fossil fuels, and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, UNEP said in a news release.
The tea initiative, which will deliver small-scale hydro-electric power to plantations across East Africa, is expected to reach over 8 million people in the tea industry. Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia are among the countries which have already endorsed the initiative.
“Tea is known to be good for you; now it is also getting better for the environment,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
He also hailed the decision by some countries in East Africa to establish power purchase agreements, which are contracts that allow unconventional generators of electricity to sell surplus power back to the grid, saying it “has opened up a raft of new opportunities for cleaner and renewable energy generation.”
In a separate but related initiative, a project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will help farmers use waste from the sugar industry to generate electricity – a move UNEP said will fuel sustainable economic growth.
The project aims to reach approximately 10 million sugar farmers and their dependants in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Tanzania.
The sugar initiative builds on the successes achieved in Mauritius, where up to 40 per cent of the country’s electricity needs are met by waste by-products from the sugar industry, UNEP said.