Bandar Seri Begawan - In Asia, there are still 600 million people in rural areas who are without access to electricity, while in the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) region, there are 100 million.
Energy is by no means sufficient for creating the conditions for economic growth, but it is certainly the building block for growth. Access to electricity is one of the clearest and un-distorted indications of a country's energy poverty status.
Brunei Darussalam, as Asean chairman for 2013 and Indonesia as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum chairman for 2013 together with the United States of America, held the first meeting for the US-Asia Pacific Partnership for a Sustainable Energy Future that aims to serve as a mechanism to encourage collaborative work among the regional organisations of Asean, APEC and East Asia Summit (EAS) through joint capacity building efforts.
The US-Asia Pacific Partnership for a Sustainable Energy was an initiative introduced during the 7th EAS on November 20, 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that is building up in existing energy initiatives within the APEC and Asean regions.
The shared sustainable future for the Asia-Pacific region proposes to cover four key priority areas namely, power markets and interconnectivity; emerging role of natural gas; renewable and sustainable energy and supplying power to rural areas.
In an interview, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Hj Umar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office said this partnership is an initiative of the US and Brunei and Indonesia are the cosponsors for the initiative.
"With this partnership, there will be activities that we are going to do with the US and Indonesia," he said. The initiative was launched by US President Barack Obama in November last year at Phnom Penh.
The Energy Minister hoped to present good results from this initiative during the Asean Summit in October this year. Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Mohammad Yasmin said the US is bringing good renewable energy initiatives to the region.
Present at the start of the meeting on the initiative at The Empire Hotel and Country Club yesterday were Joseph Yun, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the US Department of State, the Head of the United States Delegation and Hasril Nuzahar, Director of Electricity Programme Supervision as the Head of the Delegation for Indonesia.
Also present was Dr Phyllis Yoshida, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia, Europe and the Americas in the Office Policy an International Affairs at the US Department of Energy.
Atthe openingofthe first ever meeting, Pehin Dato (Dr) Haji Mohammad Yasmin said Brunei Darussalam is honoured to host the very first meeting. The minister said the initiative aims to enhance energy collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region mainly through the expansion of energy engagements and advancement of projects that encourage sustainable economic growth.
The minister said the fruits of this partnership will undoubtedly benefit a large number of people in the Asean region alone. "This partnership will also complement the existing energy initiatives under the Asean Ministers on Energy meetings and the APEC Energy Ministerial Meeting. With the early preparation that all the three countries are undertaking today, I am quite confident that our collective efforts will result in the achievement of a successful outcome for this partnership," the Minister said.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin