Dr Cheluget is a featured speaker during the official opening keynote session of the upcoming iPAD Rwanda Energy Infrastructure Forum in Kigali in November. His address will focus on “Rwanda’s role in the East Africa: Pinpointing the opportunities for Rwanda”.
1) Let’s start with some background on yourself and your role at COMESA?
I am Ambassador Dr . I was appointed COMESA Assistant Secretary General (Programmes) by the COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Kampala, Uganda in November 2012. I was formerly Kenya’s High Commissioner to Zambia and Malawi and Permanent Representative to COMESA, I joined the Secretariat in February 2013. I am a long serving diplomat, and I was formerly the Deputy High Commissioner of Kenya to New Delhi, India. I have also done some academic work having taught at several universities in Kenya.
2) What current projects that COMESA is involved in are you most excited about at the moment?
As COMESA Assistant Secretary General, I am responsible for all COMESA Programmes related to market integration in terms of trade, customs and monetary affairs; agriculture, industry and investment; infrastructure and logistics(energy transport and ICT), gender and social affairs issues. The niche of COMESA is trade and investment. On energy, COMESA is fast-tracking the implementation of a number of power generation and power interconnector projects, one of which is the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya power interconnector project and also the Uganda-Rwanda, Rwanda-Burundi power interconnector project.
3) What in your view are the main challenges with regards to the energy needs of the region?
a. inadequate level and coverage of physical energy infrastructure due to insufficient investment in the energy sector;
b. inefficiency and unreliability of existing energy infrastructure services;
c. increased demand for economic growth anid population growth; and
d. high cost of operating energy infrastructure facilities.
e. Ability to prepare bankable projects
4) What are the opportunities that these challenges present?
The energy infrastructure gap could be investment opportunities for investors. Increased energy demand forms opportunities for investors to invest in energy. Moreover, high energy prices and, in particular cost reflective tariffs could also be considered as an investment opportunity.
5) What is your vision for the region?
My vision is that I want to see a region with enhanced energy security, 100% of the people have access to affordable and reliable energy. We have abundance of renewable energy which we need to urgently harness.
6) You will deliver a keynote address at iPAD Rwanda on “Rwanda’s role in the East Africa: Pinpointing the opportunities for Rwanda” – can you give us a sneak preview of your message at the event?
Sustained efforts by Excellences Heads of COMESA State and Government in mobilizing resources for energy infrastructure development from both bilateral development partners and multilateral development banks. Again we are seeing positive results with funding being secured for energy projects.
There should be a continuation of the individual and collective efforts by COMESA Member States to mobilize financing for regional energy infrastructure projects. Engagement with the valued cooperating partners should always continue and that the universal acceptance that high quality and integrated energy infrastructure networks are a precondition for sustainable development.
Visionary leadership with clear actions plans, not on paper, but implemented.
7) What is Rwanda doing right in terms of attracting investors?
Rwanda has put in place an enabling environment which is conduce to innovation and private sector investments. The public sector led by H.E. President Paul Kagame has put in place exemplary measures which should be emulated by other countries. Rwanda is leading the way in ICT and environmental conservation as well as providing safe cities for the people of that country. The visa regime is also investor friendly.