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Cablegate: Heyday for Geothermal Project in Djiboutian Press

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary: Following the kick-off conference to
the African Rift Valley Geothermal Development Facility
(reftel), La Nation, the government run newspaper, ran
several in-depth articles on the events of the conference
and geothermal potential for Djibouti in its March 31,
2004 edition. Post feels this expansive coverage of the
conference is an indication of the importance the
Government of Djibouti is putting on this effort. End

2. (U) The Djiboutian government is making a grand show
of its newly announced commitment to pursuing geothermal
energy with four and a half pages of articles, nearly
half the paper, in La Nation March 31 on the ARGeo
conference that took place March 17-20. PolOff and
Econ/Comm Assistant attended the full conference and
noted that the official photographer was present for all
events and many sessions had Radio Television Djibouti
(RTD) there as well. La Nation's coverage included a
summary of the conference and its outcomes, a history of
the geothermal program in Djibouti, details of the ARGeo
program, an interview on the potential of geothermal
energy with Secretary General of the Ministry of Energy,
Abdi Farah Chideh, and the full text of President
Guelleh's message which was read at the opening of the
conference. With such fanfare given to the project,
one gets the impression the Government of Djibouti has
taken a "no-turning-back" attitude towards the pursuit
of geothermal energy.

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3. (U) Among the most important points highlighted by these
articles is the change in attitude of those responsible for
energy and electricity in the government. Secretary General
of the Ministry of Energy, Abdi Farah Chideh, was quoted
as saying "the workshop marking the launch of the ARGeo
project was a perfect success. I do not see why I would
doubt the success of the project itself." Chideh in earlier
meetings with PolOff had seemed very hesitant and doubtful
of the proposals from an American company interested in
developing the geothermal resources in Djibouti, saying
that there was not enough research done. Chideh mentioned
that the government hoped the ARGeo project would result in
"a knowledge of the geothermal energy potential throughout
Djibouti, ending in studying the possibilities of an
eventual geothermal plant for the production of electricity,
that is to say a less expensive energy for the benefit of
the population."

4. (U) The message from President Guelleh was very forward
leaning noting that "it should not escape our minds the
need to adapt our economies to the new world environment
marked by a technological and scientific revolution
...Geothermal energy constitutes for our countries and
our populations an alternative to attain progress and a
real national independence." Guelleh also commented that
the theme of the conference was one that carried hope that
would permit the country to put its strategies for
sustainable development and the fight against poverty on a
durable and solid base.

5. (U) Comment: We note that the Honorary Consul for Japan
in Djibouti, Maitre Farah Mourad, queried Ambassador very
heavily on the prospects for geothermal development in
Djibouti. It is not clear if there is Japanese interest
in a project. Japan provides around US$ 10 million in aid
per year to Djibouti, according to the Honorary Consul.
End Comment.

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