Cablegate: Sudan: Solar Energy in Use in Sudan

DE RUEHKH #0314/01 0550731
R 240729Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Sudan: Solar Energy in Use in Sudan

1. (U) Summary: During his February 14-17 visit to Sudan,
Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Florida) met with Dr. Migdam Elsheikh
Abdelgani, Director of the National Centre for Research (NCR) in
Khartoum to talk about the work of its 13 research institutes and
its premier Renewable Energy Institute (REI.) The REI has produced
green alternatives to chemicals used in agriculture and developed
renewable building materials. Congressman Grayson also met on
February 15 with Professor Taib Idriss, Undersecretary in the
Ministry of Science and Technology who said that the Government of
National Unity (GoNU) has provided 1.8 million rural residents with
solar lights and batteries. The DCM hosted a dinner for the
Congressman during which he met representatives of International
Non-Governmental Organizations to discuss their progress and
challenges in doing humanitarian work in Sudan. In Darfur,
Congressman Grayson observed World Food Program operations and saw,
first-hand, how solar energy and biomass are being incorporated to
improve living conditions for IDPs in the camps. End Summary

--------------------------------------------- ---------------
NCR Develops Solar, Eco-Friendly Solutions
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

2. (U) U.S. Representative Alan Grayson visited Sudan from February
14-17 to investigate the use of renewable technology and solar
energy. During the Congressman's February 15 visit to the National
Centre for Research (NCR), a division of the Ministry of Science
and Technology whose mandate is to apply scientific research to the
country's social and economic development, Dr. Migdam Elsheikh
Abdelgani, Director, told Grayson that the Centre's 13 institutes
conduct research in a wide range of disciplines, including tropical
medicine, genetic engineering, biotechnology and sustainable
development. According to Abdelgani, the NCR has 238 researchers
of which 28 percent are women. NCR scientists and officials
prepare a five-year strategic plan identifying which projects to
recommend for approval by the Government of National Unity (GNU).
However, the Director said, NCR has no decision-making authority
about which projects to work on, nor about how much to spend on
each project.

3. (U) The establishment of the Renewable Energy Institute (REI)
has been among the NCR's most notable achievements, said Abdelgani.
REI produces photocells for use in solar energy projects, and
developed alternatives to chemicals used in agriculture, replacing
chemical-based pesticides with eco-friendly alternatives and bio
fertilizers. The institute also developed techniques for
constructing low cost buildings using local materials, resulting in
savings on the transportation costs of importing building
materials. Abdulghani said the REI has fabricated roofing made
from local materials and built machines to make bricks for building

4. (SBU) Congressman Grayson asked how the NCR determines if the
GNU-approved projects have a positive impact on the public.
Abdulghani said that the GNU conducts field tests and obtains
feedback from the local community. If a local community identifies
a problem, NCR will respond by assigning researchers to conduct
studies and suggest solutions, he said. NCR's research findings
are published in journals in English and in Arabic. Responding to
Congressman Grayson's question on the NCR/REI's annual budget, the
Director said the Ministry of Finance controls all funds, a primary
reason why projects can take a long time to complete. He said that
research is slowed further because the GNU does not provide
incentives for private companies to conduct independent research.
Congressman Grayson explained the U.S. model for applying for
federal research grants as well as the decision-making process for
approval. He emphasized that using expert panels to review and
approve grant proposals helps to spur robust competition among
universities and the private sector for funding.

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
GNU Provides Solar Lights, Batteries to Rural Areas
--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

5. (SBU) Congressman Grayson also met on February 15 with Professor
Taib Idriss, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Science and
Technology. Idriss told the Congressman that Sudan, like Phoenix,
Arizona, has more than 10 hours of sunlight per day and at 46
degrees Celsius (114.8 F) sustains the optimal conditions for the
maximum use of solar energy. The use of solar panels can generate
great savings in this environment, Idriss said. Fully 70 percent
of Sudan's population of 40 million people live in its 300,000
villages, many of which are difficult to reach because roads are

KHARTOUM 00000314 002 OF 002

impassable. The GNU has begun providing solar street lights,
portable solar lamps, mobile charging units, and energy for the
services sector to people in rural areas, and is reaching out to
schools, clinics and religious institutions in villages with
100-500 families, with the goal of reaching 1.8 million residents
with solar power. (Bio Note: Dr. Idris is an alumnus of the
International Visitors Program in the mid 1990's. He also served
as a coordinator for USAID projects from 1983-1990. End Bio Note.)

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
WFP to Develop Use of Biomass As Cooking Fuel
--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

6. (U) In Darfur on February 16, Congressman Grayson visited the
World Food Program (WFP's) North Darfur facility. WFP
representative, Ali Reza, said WFP plans to develop the use of
biomass to help people in the internally displaced persons (IDPs)
camps. By diversifying into biomass, WFP will promote the use of
biomass as a fuel to replace wood. Women are often assaulted and
raped when they go outside the camps to collect firewood for
cooking; the use of biomass will reduce the need to leave the camps
to collect fuel. In addition, the use of biomass will help improve
waste management in the camps by encouraging the recycling of
household waste and garbage.

7. (U) WFP officials demonstrated to Congressman Grayson a stove
developed at the University of California-Berkeley that uses dried
compost from food waste and other bio matter for fuel. Unlike
solar cookers, the stoves can be used in much the same way as
wood-burning stoves. WFP's Reza told Congressman Grayson that WFP
has a pilot project in Kabkabia Town where it has distributed 5,000
Berkeley Stoves. The program has been in operation for only one
month, Reza said, so impact studies are not yet available.
However, the program is expected to improve the safety of women and
to reduce deforestation resulting from the collection of firewood
in the surrounding areas. The Congressman also visited Abu Shouk
IDP Camp in El Fasher, to see solar cookers in use.

8. (U) At the WFP distribution center in El Fasher, North Darfur,
the WFP provides USAID-purchased sorghum, vegetable oil, salt and
other commodities to thousands of internally displaced persons
(IDPs). In describing WFP's food distribution system Reza said
USAID partners manage the physical distribution of food by issuing
ration cards as part of a strict registration and verification
process. The food aid benefits 190,000 thousand children and 418
schools. Despite these efforts, Reza said that in North Darfur,
there still exists an alarming rate of malnutrition among children
under five years.

--------------------------------------------- -------------------
Grayson Meets with Humanitarian Community
--------------------------------------------- -------------------

9. (U) DCM hosted Congressman Grayson February 15 for a dinner with
representatives of non-governmental organizations active in
providing humanitarian assistance in Darfur. The Congressman
commended the representatives of the humanitarian organizations for
their willingness to be on the front line of disaster relief, and
recounted from personal experience a chance meeting with a child
who told the Congressman U.S. food aid had saved his family from

10. (U) Congressman Grayson did not have the opportunity to clear
this cable prior to departing post.

© Scoop Media

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