The Business Year

HE Ahmad Buti Al Muhairbi

UAE, DUBAI - Energy & Mining

Need It Now

Secretary General, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE)

Bio

Ahmad Buti Al Muhairbi is the Secretary General of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DCSE). Al Muhairbi holds a BSc in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Texas. Prior to joining DCSE, he spent some 25 years in the oil and gas industry, working for ADNOC, ARCO Dubai, Margham Dubai Establishment, and Dubai Supply Authority. He is a Board Member of Dragon Oil Plc, and holds the Vice-Chairmanship of Dubai Regulatory & Supervisory Bureau for Electricity & Water.

What is the role of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)? We are a development institution, similar to the World Bank, and cover many sectors. We finance projects in […]

What is the role of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)?

We are a development institution, similar to the World Bank, and cover many sectors. We finance projects in energy, transportation, agriculture, education, and much more. We started in 1976, and in 2013 we will celebrate our 37th anniversary. We work all over the world in developing countries from Honduras to Tajikistan. OFID covers more than 130 countries and realizes many capacity-building projects for young people. Over the last four years, energy has become one of our priorities here.

How do you see sustainable energy moving forward?

We keep hearing the motto “Finding Solutions,” but when I spoke at a recent conference in Vienna, I wanted to change the motto from “Finding Solutions” to “Funding Solutions,” because this is exactly what we are doing to innovate. We are currently running the Energy for the Poor program, which has reached three main milestones. The first was in November 2007, when our heads of state gathered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, hosted by King Abdullah, and called for the first time in our era for the eradication of energy poverty. This was not an original part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which is why our heads of state were keen to include it as the ninth goal. The second milestone came in 2008 when King Abdullah launched the Energy for the Poor scheme, and called on us to consider pledging. In June 2012, our ministerial council gathered in Austria and issued a declaration pledging a minimum of $1 billion, which is scalable, and can be increased if warranted by demand. At first, 20% of our commitment was to energy. Now we have increased this to 28% for the next two years. In 2012, we completed 25 projects, seven of which were renewable. Just because we are oil-exporting countries does not mean we are biased toward fossil fuels.

Are there plans to increase the number of renewable energy projects at OFID?

For OFID, the eradication of energy poverty is the first and overriding priority. With due respect, let’s not mix priorities. Many people are concerned about renewables, and I respect that. But at OFID, our main goal is the elimination of energy poverty. When I travel to developing countries, the message I hear is always the same—“we need energy, and we need it now.” People living in energy poverty are not interested in waiting until certain technologies become feasible. Their children need light to do homework by, families need fuel to cook, and preserve food and medicines. Meeting these most basic of needs is our chief concern. Honestly, the fuel mix doesn’t enter into the equation. Our approach is always to find the best solution for a given situation. In terms of renewables, we have provided a cumulative $700 million in financing for such projects. Around $225 million of this has been delivered over the past five years alone, as we have ramped up efforts to address the urgency. We are currently working with a number of organizations that are implementing innovative solutions on the ground. Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda are three countries that spring to mind.

“In terms of renewables, we have provided a cumulative $700 million in financing for such projects.”

How does the GCC fit into developing green energy in underprivileged countries?

We are doing everything we can. Of course, oil is the mainstay of the economy, but the region is also investing in renewables. It has established institutions for solar, nuclear, and wind energy, and is working to place the right people into jobs, including graduates from Harvard, MIT, and the like. We’re on the right track. The issue is that this discussion is continuously misguided by commentators politicizing the energy mix and insinuating that oil is dirty. It depends on your perspective. At OFID, we look at the problem as experienced by people in poorer countries, where often the main source of energy comes from wood and animal waste. Burning these products is a serious health hazard and has many other disadvantages as well. So, for such communities, anything superior to these sources is preferable and would certainly be considered as “clean.” After all, it’s all relative. In fact, I would say that what we have in these cases goes far beyond social and economic considerations.

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