Deputy Assistant Administrator Anjali Kaur's speech at USAID-EBRD MOU Signing

Speeches Shim

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), it is my pleasure and honor to be here at the Almaty University for Power Engineering and Telecommunications today to sign this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for a regional partnership supporting development across Central Asia. 

First, I would like to thank the University’s Chancellor for graciously hosting us for this event, as well as EBRD’s Managing Director for Central Asia and other colleagues for joining us here today. 

The United States and Central Asian countries share a common vision to tackle one of the biggest challenges of our era⁠—the global climate crisis. 

Like the United States, the Central Asian governments have set ambitious targets to achieve carbon neutrality in the coming decades. Here in Kazakhstan, for example, the government is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060, with other countries in the region focused on similar achievements. 

Uzbekistan, for example, aims to become carbon neutral by 2050, while Tajikistan is on the path of reducing greenhouse gasses by at least 65% in 2030 compared to the 1990 level.

USAID has more than 30 years of partnership with the countries of Central Asia, and—as outlined in our new Climate Change Strategy through 2030—we are actively aligning our development portfolios with countries’ climate change mitigation strategies to advance equitable and ambitious actions to confront the climate crisis.

All aspects of the economy rely on energy which is fundamental and essential to achieving lasting prosperity. Thus, improving the efficiency, stability, and accessibility of energy are critical to improving the lives of all Central Asia citizens.

With electricity production globally accounting for just over 40 percent of total energy sector CO2 emissions, any efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change must include modernization of electricity systems.

The development of renewable energy across Central Asia is a crucial part of this modernization, which USAID is supporting through The USAID Power Central Asia Activity—a $39 million regional energy program that is assisting the five Central Asian countries to cooperate and meet their national energy priorities, improve energy security, and build economic prosperity.

Fortunately, we are not alone in these efforts. Our partner, EBRD, shares these goals—and today we are signing this MOU to deepen our partnership in support of Central Asia’s climate objectives.

Like USAID, EBRD has been working in the region for decades, including on numerous efforts to support regional governments to decarbonize. 

Like us—and at times with us—EBRD has been engaged in decarbonization policy support in Kazakhstan, developing a low carbon road map in Uzbekistan, advising on renewable energy development and investment in Tajikistan, and undertaking comprehensive methane emissions assessment in Turkmenistan. 

We have also worked jointly with Central Asian governments to support and adopt a plan to create a Central Asia regional electricity market and partnered with their Programme for Supporting Renewable Energy and Promoting Gender Equality in Kazakhstan to promote gender equality and social inclusion within the energy sector. 

Under the MOU we are signing today, we will increase our cooperation throughout the region in the areas of renewable energy, smart electricity networks, energy efficiency, methane leakage reduction, energy storage, and water resources, as well as flexible capacities to accelerate decarbonization of the power sectors across Central Asia.

Our host, the Almaty University of Power Engineering and Telecommunications, also understands the importance of cooperation in these areas. In 2018, we signed an MOU with them to further develop a renewable energy curriculum to increase technical knowledge and ultimately create more technical specialists with expertise in this area. 

I’m happy to report that more than 60 students are now enrolled in the renewable energy curriculum at the university. More broadly, it’s great to know that nearly 50 students from Uzbekistan join AUPET’s courses remotely⁠—this is a great example of increased regional integration. I’ve also learned that half of your students pursuing energy-related Ph.D.s are female⁠—this is perfectly in line with USAID’s gender equity policies.

This network of young experts will lead the development of innovations needed to achieve the region’s ambitious and vital climate goals.

Additionally, with USAID assistance, AUPET is well on its way to becoming a Regional Resource Center on renewable energy, and will soon help develop the renewable energy curriculum at the Tajik Energy Institute, supporting our ultimate goal of regional connection and exchange. 

Whether through education, policy development or technical expertise, all of us play a key role in fighting climate change by making the energy sector more clean, more efficient and more stable.

The Central Asian countries have incredible renewable energy potential, whether it is wind from the Kazakh steppe, solar from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, or hydropower from the Kyrgyz and Tajik highlands. With a disconnected grid and outdated legacy infrastructure, the region also has considerable opportunities for energy efficiency gains. 

Central Asians have demonstrated a strong desire and foundation for increased regional energy cooperation, and that regional cooperation is the key to achieving climate goals while supporting stability and sustained economic opportunity for the people of Central Asia.

All aspects of the economy rely on energy, which is fundamental and essential to achieving lasting prosperity. And recent geopolitical events have shown us how critical it is to have stable, efficient access to energy, all of which impact the lives of the citizens in this region. Regional cooperation also supports Central Asia’s energy independence.

We are very excited to sign this MOU today with EBRD to solidify our joint efforts to achieve a low carbon and prosperous future in Central Asia.

Thank you all for attending, and we look forward to a fruitful partnership going forward.

 

Last updated: June 09, 2022

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