Remarks: Trilateral Cooperation on Renewable Energy in China - Ethiopia - Sri Lanka Workshop

August 15, 2019

Trilateral Cooperation on Renewable Energy in China - Ethiopia - Sri Lanka


Remarks by Turhan Saleh, UNDP Resident Representative

31 July 2019

H.E Mr. Frehiwot Woldehana, State Minister of Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity

H.E Mr. Harsha Wickramasinghe, Deputy Director-General of Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority

H.E. Madam Liu Yu, Minister Counsellor for Economic and Commercial Affairs of the People's Republic of China to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Distinguished Delegates from China and Sri Lanka,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All protocol observed

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today to dialogue on a trilateral cooperation that brings together Ethiopia , Sri Lanka and China, to promote renewable energy technologies.

UNDP is honored to work with these three governments on addressing the growing need for sustainable energy solutions. As we saw when we recently launched the 2019 multi-dimensional poverty index report, access to energy is one of the key areas of concern that is holding back millions of Ethiopians and others across the globe in the fight against the debilitating impacts of poverty.

The new partnership also helps us to appreciate that access to energy is a complex issue and we need to adjust our narrative to go beyond simply looking at numbers linked to coverage. For example, in Ethiopia electricity coverage stands at only 35%, while Sri Lanka is looking at 95% energy coverage. If you look at the numbers for Ethiopia and Sri Lanka the two countries don’t seem to have much in common. However, when you delve into the details around the source of Sri Lanka’s energy coverage you begin to realise that they are as challenged as Ethiopia. You see what lies behind the Sri Lanka’s impressive number is that most of its energy coverage comes from imported fossil fuels.

That is why we are using this unique approach to bring these two countries from across two different continents to learn from each other as they enhance their use of sustainable energy sources, such as renewable energy technologies, in the coming years.

So why is China part of the trilateral cooperation? Well according to Forbes, China is currently the world leader in renewable energy patents, ahead of the US, Japan and the European Union. China is also the leading country in the production of renewable energy technologies, and according to the International Energy Agency, in the next five years 36 percent and 40 percent of the world’s growth in solar and wind energy respectively will come from China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNDP’s energy portfolio is one of our flagship engagements in Ethiopia, and it has been in line with the global Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Over the past few years we have worked with the Global Environment Facility and the Ethiopian government to focus on the productive sector as well as aiming to reach 800,000 households in the rural areas by 2020.

This intervention will of course help Ethiopia to meet the Sustainable Development Goals ; and this goes beyond simply SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy.  As we support Ethiopia to improve access to renewable energy mix, we help the country to promote a climate resilient green economy and foster inclusive growth that is strongly gender sensitive as women and children bear the brunt of a country’s energy challenge.

What the new project does is to take lessons from this ongoing initiative while seeking to answer larger energy needs in institutions and the agriculture sector. It will do this by drawing lessons from China on renewable energy technology; while allowing Ethiopia and Sri Lanka to learn from each other through technical cooperation.


The Trilateral South-South cooperation project is expected to strengthen both the private and public sector – the intervention will link private sectors across the three countries and at the same time strengthen the technical capacity of government organizations, CSOs, academia and the private sector in planning renewable energy technology production, dissemination and prioritizing technological answers to deliver on targeted development benefits.

Distinguished Participants,

When we brought you all here, we did so to give you one key assignment. One of the expectations of this workshop is to codify and agree on key interventions and strategies, including the implementation arrangement for this project. Thus, your inputs and contributions to today’s discussions are most highly welcomed.

At the same time I cannot over-emphasise the important roles that each of the organizations invited here could play, specifically:

  • First - We expect active collaboration and guidance of government bodies at Federal, regional, woreda and kebele ;
  • Second - We invite interested private sectors embarking on renewable energy technologies dissemination to come on board and partner us in this initiative; ad
  • Third - We also expect the bilateral and multilateral organizations, the CSOs and academia to contribute to this important project strategically playing up on their strengths and mandates.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The trilateral initiative will be officially launched in the coming months. In the meantime, allow me to end my remarks here by taking a moment to commend the generous financial support of the Ministry of Commerce in China to the Government of Ethiopia and Sri Lanka to implement this project with co-financing from the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy and UNDP- GEF project in Ethiopia.

I thank you all for your attention.