MAECI signs MOU with Cameroon for Solar Energy

Published April 27th, 2016

cameroon article

Pictured Above: MAECI, General Electric & Eaton Corp meeting with Cameroon Ministry of Energy

After a successful economic mission in February, that included the United States team of MAECI, General Electric and Eaton Corporation, a memorandum of understanding & Protocal was secured between the Government of Cameroon and MAECI.  This was signed in April by HE. Dr. Basile ATANGANA KOUNA Minister of Water Resources & Energy of the Republic of Cameroon.  The MOU designates (5) regions in need of Solar energy in the range of 400Mw to 500Mw, over the next 5 years.  MAECI has been granted exclusivity in these regions for the installation of a solar energy solution.

MAECI will undertake a turnkey feasibility study for the electrification of these different Regions of Cameroon, using solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.  This request is in support of the “National Energy Development Plan” set up by the Cameroonian Government, and aimed at fostering the well-being of its population and future generations.

Bringing Power to Paradise

Bringing Power to Paradise

 

Imagining life on an island conjures up images of white-sand beaches, the warm ocean and the whir of an overhead fan gently stirring the breeze. But when the fan stops running because there isn’t enough energy to power the island for the day, the warm weather can become hot and the experience can become less pleasant.

Annobon Province in Equatorial Guinea is home to 5,000 residents who live and do business on the island. It is a volcanic island characterised by lush valleys, steep mountains, luxuriant vegetation and increasingly unreliable electricity. On a good day, this tropical paradise is lucky to enjoy five hours of power. The remainder must be supplemented by generator power at a considerable cost to residents and businesses.

This is all about to change as Africa’s first and largest self-sufficient solar micro grid is being installed on the island. The programme is part of Equatorial Guinea’s Horizon 2020 programme. Horizon 2020 is the government’s plan for the future that seeks to diversify the economy and put in place the necessary infrastructure to build a sustainable future.

MAECI Solar, GE and Princeton Power Systems are installing a five mega-watt solar grid across three locations on Annobon Province, including the airport, hotel and mountain top. The island-wide micro grid will provide reliable, predictable power and meet 100 per cent of current energy demand. As energy requirements increase, extra storage batteries can be added. It will be the largest self-sufficient solar project in Africa.

Given its geographical remoteness, there is no option to feed extra electricity into the national grid, so surplus energy is being stored in banks of GE Durathon batteries.  The Durathon battery has the ability to intelligently and smoothly switch between generator and battery power. It copes well in high temperatures and requires no additional cooling, which makes it an ideal solution for electricity storage.  The consistent and reliable energy ensures that residents and business can enjoy power 365 days a year no matter the weather conditions. It will also be a platform for economic growth on the island, bringing a much needed power supply that will enable the development of future industries. One such industry is commercial fishing, which requires reliable electricity to keep the refrigeration units operating

Chris Massaro, senior vice president, MAECI said the solar farm project will add 700-1,000 direct and indirect jobs to the island and significantly raise the standard of living for locals.

The long-term goal of the programme is to create a self-sufficient solar grid that can be run, maintained and serviced by residents of Annobon Island.  Twenty engineers have so far participated in the first round of training focussed on the installation and maintenance of the grid. A second training course will commence later this year.

With a second grid planned for a neighbouring island, discussions are underway about creating a dedicated training centre at the National University of Equatorial Guinea. The aim is to develop a dedicated technology hub to service similar projects across sub-Saharan Africa. “While this small island may seem far away, there is global significance in the project. Self-sufficient solar farms can be installed in other geographically remote areas even if they are not able to link to major power grids. Through harnessing and specifically storing solar energy we can now provide reliable power to some of the world’s 1 billion people who are without electricity. This power will enable these areas to have crucial services like hospitals and lighting” said Wyatt.

In the developed world, electricity is a fact of life and often taken for granted. But it is in the developing world that the transformative power of reliable, cost efficient solar-powered electricity is enormous. Through consistent power supply, communities such as Annobon Province in Equatorial Guinea have the opportunity to transform and diversify their economies and improve the quality of life for all those living on the island.

Annobon Island Microgrid: Case Study

A microgrid case study: The Annobon Island Microgrid, a reliable and cost-effective island microgrid.

Annobon Province, an island off Equatorial Guinea in west central Africa, has a population of approximately 5,000 residents. The residents only have reliable electricity for up to five hours per day and spend an average of 15-20 percent of their income on supplemental power. They needed a solution that would eliminate the expense and provide them electricity for 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to become a better functioning island. As part of The Equatorial Guinea’s National Economic Development Plan Horizon 2020, which aimed to make Equatorial Guinea an “emerging economy” and accelerate its development and democratization by 2020, the group sought outside help with their power dilemma.

Annobo residents only have reliable electricity for up to five hours per day and spend an average of 15-20 percent of their income on supplemental power.

Historic Solution

The government of Equatorial Guinea chose MAECI Solar, a division of Management and Economic Consulting, in collaboration withPrinceton Power Systems to install 5-MW solar microgrid system on Annobon Province. The island microgrid provides reliable, predictable power and supplies enough electricity to handle 100 percent of the island’s current energy demand and allow for the largest self-sufficient solar project on the continent of Africa.

The solar microgrid features 5-MW solar modules, system integration, an energy management system, controls, and energy storage.

The Annobon Island Microgrid is the culmination of many years of operating off-grid solar systems around the world. By integrating advanced batteries and controls, we can now make large-scale microgrids a reliable and cost-effective energy solution.- Martin Becker, Chief Technical Officer, Princeton Power Systems

A World-class Energy Management Solution 

Princeton Power Systems’ BIGI-250 energy management platform, the world’s first three-port industrial-scale solar energy management system, with UL listing and thousands of operating hours in commercial applications since 2012 was the key driver behind the power project on Annobon Island. Princeton Power Systems’ BIGI-250 energy management platform:

  • Offers advanced smart-grid functions saving customers time and money.
  • Operates both on-grid and off-grid
  • Features built-in smart functions, such as peak demand shaving, photovoltaic (PV) ramp rate control and area frequency regulation (AFR).
  • Highly innovative design can be configured for various applications and is compatible with advanced grid communication protocols.
  • Converter platform offers high efficiency, proven reliability and unprecedented flexibility.

Princeton Power Systems’ BIGI-250 energy management platform, the world’s first three-port industrial-scale solar energy management system was the key driver behind the power project on Annobon Island.

Global Experience

Princeton Power Systems’ previous global experience in microgrids from Alcatraz Island, the U.S. Department of Defense and private sector customers was relied upon to improve the quality of life for people on Annobon Island where grid power does not exist or is not reliable. This groundbreaking project in Africa will serve as a platform for the one billion people across the world without any power.

 

Giving Back – Frontiers

An OSUCCC – James physician-researcher contributes to his father’s program to improve education and health care in an African village, an effort that is a model of educational improvement, economic development and sustainability.

BY ERIC BUTTERMAN

Like many African countries, the West African nation of Cameroon struggles to provide health care in general and cancer care in particular. The nation’s 22.2 million people had a life expectancy for both sexes combined of 56 years in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. The leading causes of death were HIV/AIDS, lower-respiratory tract infections, diarrheal diseases, malaria, stroke and ischemic heart disease. Leading causes of cancer death were breast, cervical, prostate, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ovarian and liver. In terms of the healthcare providers, Cameroon has eight physicians per 100,000 people (versus 245 in the United States), and 44 nurses and midwives per 100,000 people. In terms of technology, the nation has 0.6 CT scanners and 0.1 radiation therapy units per million Cameroonians, and 17.4 mammography units per 1 million women. The nation has virtually no cancer screening and prevention programs and few treatment options for those who develop cancer.

Patrick Nana-Sinkam, MD, a lung-cancer specialist at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

“The people will know they have more places to turn for help to stop some problems before it becomes much larger for preventive services and to address acute issues. It will hopefully give those in the village a better sense of security for them and their families.”

(OSUCCC – James) has roots in the Cameroonian village of Bangou, and he is working with his father to improve the healthcare situation. His father, Professor Samuel Nana-Sinkam, began a foundation in 2010 dedicated to providing educational opportunity for Bangou’s children, improve health care and provide jobs while sustaining the foundation. The approach he is using could provide a model for sustainable improvements in health care and education in other under-resourced areas as well.

Prof. Nana-Sinkam was born in Bangou, which is located in Cameroon’s western highlands about 170 miles northwest of the capital Yaoundé. His family has lived there for generations. The village’s 10,000 to 15,000 inhabitants are mainly subsistence farmers who live in homes of mud brick and thatch roofs and survive on less than $2 per day.

Dr. Patrick Nana-Sinkam, who is associate director of the Thoracic Oncology Center at the OSUCCC – James, is helping plan and design the village’s first ambulatory care clinic. “Historically, health care in the village has been provided by a few small, state-owned centers staffed by a nurse and supplied with a few basic drugs,” Nana-Sinkam says. “They meet only the simplest medical needs.” The nearest hospital is 20 miles away. “The new ambulatory health center will open in July and provide year-round health care,” he says. The first floor will have clinic space that includes several rooms for patient consultations, a pharmacy and a chemistry lab equipped for basic clinical tests such as glucose, complete blood counts, serum profiles and urinalysis. “We plan to have a general internist available daily,” Nana-Sinkam says. “We may add needed subspecialists and dental services at some frequency in the future.” A second floor will have apartments for doctors. “The care provided by the clinic will be unbelievably important for the village,” says Nana-Sinkam, “but it also stands for something.”The people will know they have more places to turn for preventive services and to address acute issues. It will hopefully give those in the village a better sense of security for them and their families.”

 

 

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Pictured Above: PATRICK NANA-SINKAM, MD, associate professor of Medicine and member of the OSUCCC – James Translational Therapeutics Program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

AN AFRICA STORY RARELY HEARD

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The ambulatory health center is underwritten by the Charles Sinkam Foundation, the foundation that was started by Prof. Nana-Sinkam. The foundation is directed by Dr. Djomo Armel, a well-respected local cardiologist. Prof. Nana-Sinkam’s story is one of a promising young man, helped by his extended family, who leaves his village, accomplishes much and returns to help others. Prof. Nana-Sinkam’s father, Charles Sinkam, stressed the importance of education. Samuel showed promise in primary school, and family—aunts, uncles, cousins, along with his parents—rallied their resources to help him attend secondary school at College of St. John the Baptist in Bangou, then complete pre-university studies in Yaoundé. He attended college in France, earning a PhD in Economics, Development Theory and Practice, from the University of Poitiers, along with a master’s degree in Statistics and Econometrics from the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) in Paris. For a time, he served as Minister of Economics and Finance in Cameroon, then worked with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Next, he worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The family lived outside of Washington, DC. There, he attended George Washington University, earning a second PhD in Economics, Monetary and Finance. “As a child, I remember waking at 3 a.m. and seeing him studying at the dining room table,” NanaSinkam says. “By 6 a.m., he’d be dressed and go to work. On Saturday and Sunday, he slept.” At the IMF, he was promoted to executive director, representing more than 27 African countries. He was also a professor at the University of Dauphine in Paris, and a senior risk analyst and adviser with Chase Manhattan Bank New York. His career included being appointed by United Nations Secretary General Koffi-Annan as special representative in GuineaBissau in a peace-keeping mission during that country’s civil war. And he served as director of the Joint FAO/ECA Department in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; as a member of the executive committee of the Club of Rome; and as FAO country director in Democratic Republic of Congo and other African countries. This work often took him into conflict areas where he worked to ensure fair democratic elections.

 

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Pictured Above: Professor Samuel Nana-Sinkam

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Pictured Above: Prof. Nana-Sinkam and Dr. Djomo Armel

IMPROVING EDUCATION

Yet, he returned to Bangou yearly when possible, and he helped family members with education and health needs. He founded the Charles Sinkam Foundation to do more, focusing first on providing educational opportunity to village children. “Many leave school very early because families just can’t afford it,” Prof. Nana-Sinkam says. “I wanted to help students in a meaningful way. We provide scholarships to top students to try to keep them in school, and we even provide some with college scholarships.” People come from all parts of Cameroon for Medical Days.

The foundation’s attention then turned to improving health care.

IT BEGINS WITH EDUCATION

 

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Professor Samuel Nana-Sinkam regards the educational focus of the Charles Sinkam Foundation as among the most important. One school was a particular triumph. “We chose one high school in the village that was scheduled to close because it had only 70 students in the sixth to ninth grades,” explains Samuel Nana-Sinkam. “We set up a test for students entering sixth grade, and the 30 best students passing the test received a scholarship and books.” The next year they repeated the system. The best of the sixth graders who were entering seventh grade received a scholarship and books. In the meantime, the tenthgrade class was opened through the process. After three years, the high school presented twelfth-grade students for the national test to enter the university. In the end, the students from the village achieved an 85-percent success rate and ranked No. 2 in the nation. The foundation offers scholarships to the top three to go to the university. The next year, the school ranked first. The educational focus is also tied into Medical Days—the day before the event, students ranging from sixth grade to those graduating from high school are given scholarships. “This isn’t just top students overall, but those who excel in particular areas, such as mathematics and science,” says Prof. Nana-Sinkam. The younger Nana-Sinkam sees these educational hopefuls as the core of what the Foundation is about—and what his father is about. “You see a man who built a life through perseverance, and who has succeeded by many measures,” Patrick Nana-Sinkam says. “This is where his life started and education partly propelled him. Then you can’t help but be proud of these young people and what they have been able to achieve. It’s exciting to think about where they could be going.”

MEDICAL DAYS

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Pictured Above: Patient intake and preparing of prescriptions at the Medical Day. 

It began in July 2011 when the foundation held its first Medical Days. During the two-day event, the foundation opens its doors to the sick and injured, to all who need medical care. Since 2011 it’s been held twice a year, in July and December. Care and prescriptions are provided at no charge. People come from all parts of Cameroon, some as far as 250 miles away. Nana-Sinkam notes that physicians who participate come from all over Cameroon and range from general practitioners to specialists such as a cardiologist, pediatrician, rheumatologist, hematologist and ophthalmologist. “We first triage patients—we check vitals and test glucose and other basic parameters, then direct the person to the appropriate subspecialist,” Patrick Nana-Sinkam says. Basic surgeries such as hernia repair are performed, and the local dental school sends its mobile dental unit, staffed by dentists and dental students for onsite care. The foundation has hosted eight Medical Days in all, and some 19,000 people have sought care. Common illnesses treated have included hypertension, degenerative joint disease and pediatric diarrheal illness. Treatments included 250 surgeries and 400 dental extractions. In December 2015, prostate and cervical screenings were offered for the first time. In July 2016, breast self-exam will be taught. Nana-Sinkam has been impressed with the local internists who assist during Medical Days. “In the absence of the tests and diagnostic equipment we take for granted in high-resource counties, they rely heavily on clinical acumen, on sound and touch and on a familiarity with local illnesses. And they are very good at it.” In addition, three or four children have been referred for open heart surgery, which is available at just one hospital in central Cameroon, Nana-Sinkam says. The foundation paid the children’s transportation to the hospital and for the surgery. “The children have done wonderfully. They’re in school and enjoying friends,” Nana-Sinkam says. “It has been an incredible experience—the level of excitement and commitment offers tremendous hope for the community, and they start looking forward to it weeks and months in advance,” NanaSinkam says.

 

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A NUCLEUS OF HOPE

That excitement is well-founded. In fact, Medical Days is a multi-day demonstration of hope and caring. Four days are planned for July 2016. Day 1 Academic scholarships are awarded Day 2 Cancer screening and education Day 3 and Day 4 Both are medical days that provide onsite general medical care and subspecialty care. “I never thought it would become what it has,” Prof. Nana-Sinkam says. “It works because people are tremendously dedicated to it. They put other things aside and focus on what we’re trying to do. I’m grateful that they care as much as they do.”

ECONOMICS

The foundation covers the cost of Medical Days activities. The doctors who take part come mainly from across Cameroon and work under a locum tenens agreement, a legal mechanism for temporary physician help. They are paid $150 for the two days (internists in Cameroon typically receive $400 per month). The foundation also pays for the doctors’ meals and housing. To make the foundation sustainable and provide economic benefit to the village, the foundation started several initiatives: • A bank that offers microfinancing—small, lowinterest loans—to help small businesses; • A brick factory, which takes advantage of local resources and provides work for people in the community; • A syringe factory, because the need is great and there are no such factories in central Africa; • Planned: A grain mill to make animal feed. These initiatives should mean a bright future for the Charles Sinkam Foundation, the people of Bangou and perhaps the entire country. “The Medical Days event has received attention from local government and national government as well,” Patrick NanaSinkam says. “It might be a model system for other communities in need, if implemented properly, but it requires a real commitment in time, resources and patience. You can’t just build a health center on day one. Much of it requires understanding the community, the culture and, maybe just as importantly, building trust.” Looking back on how far the village of Bangou has come, the most valuable thing its residents get in return begins with what Professor Nana-Sinkam remembers seeing so many times growing up—the smiles of a village of perseverance and love. “Seeing a smile on the face of a child, of a mother, of a man, has been our most important reward,” Professor Nana-Sinkam says. “We believe strongly that every human is on Earth with a purpose and no one should go through that journey without leaving a positive contribution to be remembered.”

 

MAECI meets with newly appointed Ambassador Furuta-Toy

Published February 19th, 2016

Furta Toy

Pictured Above: MAECI meeting with U.S. Ambassador Furuta-Toy

CEO and President of MAECI, Samuel Nana-Sinkam, and Senior Vice President of MAECI, Chris Massaro, met with newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Julie Furuta-Toy.

Ambassador Furuta-Toy was interested to hear about MAECI’s work in Equatorial Guinea, that dates back to 2007, and agreed with MAECI’s assessment of the opportunities that exist within the country.  Ambassador Furuta-Toy feels that more U.S. companies should be looking at Equatorial Guinea for business expansion, and she feels great progress has been made concerning transparency within the government.

 

 

Government of Sao Tome & Principe signs MOU with MAECI

Published February 17th, 2016

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Pictured Above: MAECI meeting with H.E. Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada

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Pictured Above: MAECI meeting with H.E. Minister of Energy Carlos Vila Nova

Upon the invitation of the Government of Sao Tome & Principe, and the support of the U.S. Embassy,  MAECI, General Electric and Eaton Corporation traveled to Sao Tome for the purpose of an economic mission.

After traveling to various locations on the island, and visiting many private sector businesses, MAECI met with the Minister of Energy, H.E. Carlos Vila Nova, and Prime Minister H.E. Patrice Trovoada to discuss the need for energy in the country.  The meetings concluded with a memorandum of understanding secured between the Government of Sao Tome & Principe and MAECI.  This was signed in February by HE. Carlos Vila Nova Minister of EnergyThe MOU specifies a next step for the production of a feasibility study to be performed by the U.S. team of MAECI, GE & Eaton, for the installation of a solar energy solution.

This study is to begin this coming summer 2016.

Eaton to provide electrical equipment for microgrid in Equatorial Guinea

US-based power management company Eaton has agreed to supply electrical engineering services and power distribution equipment for the construction of a 5MW solar microgrid system in Annobon Province, Equatorial Guinea

Annobon-EG-micrgridAnnobon Province is located in Equatorial Guinea, and relies on off-grid electricity sources such as generators. (Image source: Eaton)

Eaton would provide switchgear assemblies, circuit protection devices and power transformers with embedded communications capabilities to easily integrate with microgrid energy storage components.

According to officials at Eaton, the microgrid has enhanced battery storage and is designed to supply reliable and predictable power to meet the off-grid community’s energy demand. It will be the largest self-sufficient solar microgrid project in Africa, they added.

The US-based power management company was contracted by MAECI Solar to optimise electrical power distribution equipment for the 5MW project. MAECI is collaborating with Wise Power Systems to provide solar design, engineering and custom-made double glass modules with full microgrid system integration.

William Rawheiser, president of Wise Power Systems, said, “We are extremely excited to bring this solar microgrid solution to Annobon Island to help raise the quality of life for the people and bring world class decentralised electrical grid solutions to Equatorial Guinea and Africa. The Annobon Electrification Project will bring a much needed stable, reliable, and consistent power supply to the island, and enable the development of multiple industries, bringing valuable jobs and significantly raising the standard of living.”

Annobon Province relies on generators for the provision of electricity. Residents spend an average of 15 to 20 per cent of their income on supplemental power, said Eaton officials. The solar microgrid in development is engineered to eliminate this expense by providing clean, reliable and sustainable solar electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Frank Campbell, president of the electrical sector at Eaton, EMEA added that connecting a remote community to a conventional power grid is expensive, whereas a modern microgrid would serve as a model for bringing reliable and cost-effective electrical power.

The 5MW project is part of the West African nation’s National Economic Development Plan Horizon 2020, which aims to strengthen the economy of Equatorial Guinea.

S Navy tests new microgrid applications for civilian and defence markets using vanadium-flow battery technology

A Smart Microgrid project hosted by the US Navy and sponsored by the California Energy Commission (CEC) will use vanadium-flow battery technology developed by Imergy Power Systems, a major energy storage systems developer. The project, a microgrid/energy storage demonstration combined with a solar PV installation, will take place at US Navy’s Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) Facility in Port Hueneme, California.

The project is part of a wider attempt by the Navy and civilian authorities to develop applications and use-case scenarios to optimize power consumption at military bases, college campuses, industrial parks and other situations. The US Navy and military have emerged as world leaders in development of microgrids and other advanced energy technologies. Microgrids at military bases could help the military lower energy costs, expand their use of renewable energy, and reduce their dependence on diesel and grid connectivity for mission critical assignments.

According to Imergy, three ESP30 series vanadium-based flow batteries will be incorporated into the project, which will also feature a 50 kW PV solar panel system and GELI’s Energy Operating System (EOS) to automate the multiple applications. The ESP30 series has a capacity of up to 50 kilowatts (kW) and can store up to 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.

Microgrids are not necessarily only suyitable for small-scale projects. Earlier this year, GE announced a contract win to provide the government of Equatorial Guinea with a 5MW solar microgrid. The project, which will be built jointly with MAECI Solar and Princeton Power Systems, represents the largest self-sufficient solar power system in Africa. This initiative comes under the aegis of Equatorial Guinea’s “National Economic Development Plan Horizon 2020,” which aims to put the country on the “emerging market map” by 2020.

Microgrid projects have been developed across rural areas South America, Africa, Australia and beyond. Because of a sutained effort to develop its small-scale power grid infrastructure, Alaska has emerged as a global leader in microgrid development, particularly in wind-diesel generation.

The market for energy storage is growing rapidly. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has mandated that the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities add a minimum of 1.3 gigwatts (GW) of energy storage of energy storage infrastructure by the end of the decade. Worldwide revenue from deployments of microgrids is expected to grow to $25.28 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 17.36% during 2014 to 2022.

 

Solar electrification project of Annobon Island in Equatorial Guinea underway

 

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In September the government of Equatorial Guinea approved a 5 megawatt solar project submitted by MAECI Solar, a division of Management and Economic Consulting, Inc. (MAECI) of the United States.  The project was developed in collaboration with Wise Power Systems International, located in Wilmington, Delaware.

The Annobon Island solar project is historic in that it will be the largest self -sufficient solar project on the continent of Africa, and one of the largest in the world to date.  The solar installation will supply enough electricity to handle 100% of the current demand, and enough capacity for future expansion.

Clearing of land near the Hotel Annobon

 

MAECI Solar has begun the excavation process on the island.  Excavation will take place in three strategic locations on the island, the airport, Hotel Annobon and the top of Quioveo Mountain.

Once the excavation process is complete, the installation of the solar units will begin.  MAECI Solar will employ several residents of Annobon Island.  These employees will assist with various parts of the project, including transportation and assembly.  MAECI Solar will train 10 or more residents of the island on the solar technology being installed, so that they can maintain the installation in the future.

As stated in our past articles, this project supports President Obiang’s “National Economic Development Plan” adopted in November 2007 at the Second National Economic “Horizon 2020” Conference.  The key strategies and reforms necessary for Equatorial Guinea to take advantage of its unique opportunity is to use its nonrenewable oil wealth to foster the wellbeing of its population and future generations.

 

Notice: Reproduction of all or part of this article or the images contained in it must always be done mentioning its source (Equatorialguineaonline.com).

 

Is the United States too late to the Party in Africa?

 

U.S. President Barack Obama, President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea First Lady  Mrs. Constancia Mangue de Obiang Nsue, and US First Lady Michelle Obama.
U.S. President Barack Obama, President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea First Lady Mrs. Constancia Mangue de Obiang Nsue, and US First Lady Michelle Obama.

In 2011, Hilary Clinton, the then Secretary of State, attended a business conference in the Zambian capital of Lusaka.  In an attempt to build economic partnerships in Africa, the United States sent the one of the largest delegations in years to the conference.  Secretary Clinton stated “Our approach is based on partnership, not patronage.  It is focused not on handouts but on the kind of economic growth that underlies long-term progress”.  Secretary Clinton also responded to China’s push to partner with many African countries stating China “has not always utilized the talents of the African people in pursuing business interests.”

Is the U.S too late to the party?  Is the U.S. ready to approach the continent with a consistent approach? The United States has been partnering with many Middle Eastern countries for several decades, in order to satisfy our thirst for oil.  With these partnerships we’ve befriended countries that are non-democratic, have a strong distaste for the U.S. to the point where they’ve inflicted violent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and abroad.  These countries and their citizens have made it clear that they like our money, but not us.  What the U.S. has missed, is the opportunities in Africa.  Many leaders within Africa are extremely interested in building relationships with the U.S., but the U.S. has been extremely resistant.  Why?  Most likely the United States feels that many African countries have governments that are seen as oppressive and corrupt.  However, for some reason this isn’t an issue within the Middle East which is really surprising, to say the least.

In fact, “when it comes to countries such as Saudi Arabia, we ignore the way the royal family runs the country. Saudi Arabia is not an electoral democracy, and Equatorial Guinea is.  Saudi Arabia has made progress due to U.S. pressure when it comes to human rights, but still remains on the list of most oppressive regimes; Equatorial Guinea has made a remarkable achievement in this field, even recognized and praised by the UN and many international Medias.  When the U.S. began doing business with the Saudi family, it was at the top of the list concerning human rights violations within its borders.   (The reports are excerpted from Freedom in the World 2010, which surveys the state of freedom in 194 countries and 14 select territories)”.

Former President George Bush with Saudi King Abdullah
Former President George Bush with Saudi King Abdullah

An example of this inconsistent approach is Equatorial Guinea.  Having spent time in the African country of Equatorial Guinea, I’ve found that the U.S. struggles to determine how they would like to approach this country.  In democratic and sustainable terms, it would be very difficult for anyone who has studied, analyzed the constant changes of political economic and social spectrum of this country, to find a better democratized country on the continent. What the U.S. needs is to have a group of U.S. members of the congress and entrepreneurs to visit this country and draw their conclusion from their own assessment.  In 2012,  MAECI,  a U.S. international consulting firm, led a Multidisciplinary Economic Mission to Equatorial Guinea. Although the mission was very successful, the Members of the Congress (Senators and Congressmen) from the States where the members of the mission originated have failed to effectively act on the concrete report of that mission to foster the US partnership with that country.  Nevertheless, because of determined willingness of Equatorial Guinea to partnership with the US, the mission translated into different projects being implemented by U.S. companies. In cooperation with General Electric, Princeton Power, NESL, the University of Delaware, etc.; MAECI is building the largest Off-grid solar electric systems on the Continent, (and one the largest in the world) on the AnnobonIsland. Within the Framework of President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo vision as embodied in the National Economic and Social Development “Horizon 20/20”, with the construction of this Off-grid solar electric systems, Equatorial Guinea will become one of the greenest countries in the world. MAECI is also involved in the construction of a Plant to produce Small Agricultural Implement for national needs and export to neighboring countries; the Agro industrial complex built by MAECI to produce corn cooking oil, corn flour, animal feed, using the production from a 750 ha of corn/soybean farm is set for inauguration by the end of this year.

U.S. companies are also extensively involved, with recognized success, in the agricultural development of the country.  Equatorial Guinea has large oil and natural gas reserves, and U.S. companies such as Exxon-Mobil, Marathon, have had a strong presence within the country for years.  The government of Equatorial Guinea is very interested in building a strong partnership with the U.S.  However, The U.S. has still not moved on this.  Over the past few years, China, South Korea, India, East European countries, Brazil, to name a few, have forged strong relationships, and are involved in most of the growth of this small countries’ expansion.  China is heavily involved in building the infrastructure of Equatorial Guinea, and seeking more partnerships to develop such programs as food and manufacturing.

The United States has conflicted views of what to do in Equatorial Guinea.  The U.S. would like to invest and support the growth, but feels it’s compromising its beliefs due to unfounded statements that are made about the government of Equatorial Guinea, and appear to be uncomfortable in partnering with a country that has a leader that has been in power for many years.   Unfortunately, the U.S. has not taken the time to make a comprehensive analysis, considering where the country comes from, beside the fact that there is no valid reason why Equatorial Guinea should be singled out among so many countries in Africa and in the world under the same situation. There is no foundation for that attitude. It is time for the Western countries to understand that democracy cannot be imported but has to be genuine, grown and nurtured from within; and the process takes time. One should remember how long it took Europe to become a democratic Continent, and needless to say that many countries in Europe still cannot be considered as democratic states.

Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea has been in power for several decades.  President Obiang has come under scrutiny over the years for the way in which he has run the country.  What the U.S. hasn’t taken into consideration is that the country, from when President Obiang Nguema took power, has gone from one of the poorest countries in the world (in democratic, social and economic terms), to one of the democratically advanced and economically richest per capita country on the Continent.  A third world country such as Equatorial Guinea lacks the experience to handle what comes with this new found wealth.  The United States should see this as an opportunity to assist and partner with African countries such as Equatorial Guinea while they go through this process.  Instead the U.S. has taken the approach that a third world country should have the ability to recognize it’s short comings and build a model country within a timeframe that neither the U.S. nor any so called developed western country were able to achieve.  The result has been lost opportunities.

The government of Equatorial Guinea has made great progress within the last five years.  The government has built roads, schools, hospitals and many other infrastructure projects with the oil revenue that has been created.  One of the most powerful initiatives has been in the agriculture sector.  The government of Equatorial Guinea is committed to feed its own people in order to create a foundation for sustainable future growth. The successful far-reaching and comprehensive Agriculture Program launched back in 2010/2011 by the then Minister of State in charge of Agriculture and Forest H.E. Teodoro NGUEMA OBIANG MANGUE (presently Vice President in charge of Security and Armed Forces), and called “The Green Revolution”, implemented by the U.S. company (MAECI), is still being visited by experts from many African countries as a model to be copied. Its objective of achieving food self-sufficiency is being attained, after only 18 months from inception! Some FAO experts have called the program a discovery on how to sustainably and economically reach food self-sufficiency in a developing country.

Based on Secretary Clinton’s 2011 comments, it sounded like the U.S. wanted to become more involved in Africa.  In order for that to happen, the U.S. must become proactive in assisting African countries in developing the genuine roadmap to their development.

We live in an extremely transparent world, with a 24 hour news cycle, which is causing the U.S. to take positions that they feel will protect them politically.  By taking this type of position, how does it benefit the U.S.?  This forces the United States to sell its population on initiatives through deception, such as how we were sold on the Iraq and Libya wars, while countries like China, India, Brazil, South Korea, are securing their future needs with partnerships they’re creating all over Africa.

With the changes that are taking place around the world, and the race for the super powers to control the depleting resources on the earth, it’s crucial for the U.S. to embrace Africa.  Unfortunately when dealing with emerging markets and countries, patience and understanding need to be used.  We need to focus our attention and resources on countries that want to partner with the U.S.

Equatorial Guinea is just one example of African countries that the U.S. should support, and there are more just within the Western Central African region.

We must look long term and ignore the short sited political rhetoric. There is absolutely no doubt that Africa is the Continent of the Future, and it is the last of the World’s frontiers.  If the US misses out, where do we go?