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September 30, 2002

Out of Africa: Grand plans for energy integration

Dear GENI Friend,

You have probably seen the beautiful Earth at Night image that was created by NASA -- featured in GENI's last newsletter (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap001127.html). One stark reality -- how dark the continent of Africa is in comparison to the rest of the world. After flying over Africa last month at night, I can attest to the lack of city lights below.

But this condition is sure to change as Africa's leaders realize that cooperation in energy development will benefit everyone. Three years ago, the U.S. Energy Secretary hosted all his fellow ministers from Africa, offering technical expertise and business partnerships to help develop this infrastructure. Today, plans are proceeding on electrical integration across all of Africa. And these leaders know of the abundant hydropower, geothermal, solar and biomass potential they are sitting on.

The one big project that remains stalled is the Grand Inga hydropower site on the Congo River. It's a megaproject -- and would benefit all Africans, with some excess for export to Europe. Yet, the constant wars in the Congo make any financial interests shy away. I asked Steve Lennon of ESKOM how this project might be "internationalized" so it could proceed in spite of the local troubles. He said that the newly created NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) is the forum where Grand Inga could gain African and international favor — and get moving.

The articles on power pooling and long distance transmission in Africa are a bit dry and technical. That bodes well, as engineers and investors are now putting voltage levels and cost estimates on specific projects. GENI has been pushing for this kind of development in Africa for the last 15 years. Your support and our persistence are paying off. Please share this news with your colleagues.

In partnership for the planet,

Peter Meisen

p.s. Our web site continues to grow in depth and reach. We have just hit 10,000 visitors per month! Check us out again, and refer our site to a friend: www.geni.org

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