بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين‘ وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى محـمَّدٍ‘ وعلى آلـه وصحبـه أجمعـين.
Excellency Mr Waheeduddeen, Vice President designate; Excellency Mr Nobuhito Hobo, Ambassador of Japan; Excellency Ministers; Head of JICA; Ladies and Gentlemen.
This is a very happy occasion for Maldives. Clearly, this is a turning a point in Maldives’ future in its investment in renewable energy. Maldives is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change. And we have been at the forefront of advocacy for reducing global emission of carbon dioxide.
Therefore today we are able to demonstrate, with the support of our friendly people of Japan, that Maldives is able to take concrete action to reduce carbon emission from our side.
Clearly Maldives is such a small country and such a small player in the global emission of carbon dioxide, what we do here has only symbolic significance in terms of reducing global emission of CO2. But it is very important for Maldives to demonstrate and to be able to walk the talk.
The environmental impact of the use of fossil fuel is widely well known. Globally, through the UNFCC process, we have been arguing and we have been advocating for higher emission reduction globally. Unfortunately until today we have not been able to achieve the targets that we have been calling for.
For us, we have been campaigning for the last couple of years that we would like the world community to come to an understanding, an agreement, to reduce emissions so that the CO2 levels in the atmosphere would be reduced to 350 parts per million.
Already it is much higher. To bring this down we have to have a global effort. We will continue to play our role in advocating for clean environment, throughout the world. We will work with other small island countries, and low lying countries, to keep the low carbon development agenda at the forefront of the international developmental discourse over the next years as well. Our commitment to this will continue to be strong and unwavering.
You have seen the presentation that was made here, that the diesel importation to Maldives is consuming a very large percentage of our GDP. So for us, the investment in renewable energy is a necessity economically, in addition to its environmental benefits.
We cannot afford to continue to rely on imported diesel over the next 10 to 15 years, because the price of diesel continues to rise. And today already, a barrel of oil is about 130 to 536 dollars, which is highest in recent times. So we cannot really keep up with the increasing oil prices.
You just saw the figures that if the price of oil goes up toa 150 dollars per barrel, we will be spending more than 700 million dollars per year on oil. So this is really a very important economic decision for Maldives to invest in renewable energy.
Last year we set up an office for renewable energy investments. We will now strengthen this office, and we will make sure that we have the capacity in this office to be able to lead low carbon development investments, especially in renewable energy.
We have been looking at several options. Solar energy seems to be the most promising. We have also been looking at wind energy, and other forms such as geothermal and ocean thermal energy. But for us with the uniformity of sunshine in the Maldives, solar energy seems to be the most viable and the most important investment to reduce our costs in fossil fuel.
In this regard, I want to thank the government and the people of Japan for leading this initiative. This is clearly the largest investment of this kind so far. And with the Japan government agreeing to support this project, we will be investing in more than half a megawatt of electricity generated through solar power.
We have also put in place arrangements for even private investors to set up solar energy, and to sell this to the State Electric Company. Therefore, I hope that this will set the trend and will help also, to motivate private sector to invest in solar energy projects around the Maldives.
This is a very important contribution, which sets the trend for everybody else. I know that even previously Japan has provided some small projects in solar energy in some of the islands. But those projects have not been followed through.
We need to strengthen our capacity in the government, in the local government and so on, to be able to follow through with the projects we start, to be able to monitor what happens to those projects. So we are committed to work with our international partners to bring the investments. But also we are committed to follow through and monitor the impact of such investments.
Japan has been a very close friend of Maldives for a very long time. And Japan's investments in Maldives have been very important – social and economic sector projects. Some of you may not remember that Japan was responsible for setting up the first atoll schools in the Maldives. One atoll education centre was built in every single atoll. And since then they have built several schools in Male’. I believe this is one of them. So we are not surprised that Japan continues to be at the forefront of support to the Maldives in its development projects. For this, we, the people of Maldives extend our gratitude to the government and the people of Japan. Thank you very much
At this point, may I also express our solidarity and our sadness with the people of Japan on the anniversary of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that occurred exactly a year ago on the 11th of March last year. Japan has shown enormous resilience and determination to recover and reconstruct from the damages that were caused.
They have shown that united, the people of Japan are able to face even the most unbelievable occurrence. No country has been affected by such a massive disaster in recent history. So our respect goes to the people of Japan, and we convey our solidarity and support to the people and the government of Japan on this very sad anniversary.
Thank you, all of you, for being here this morning. I wish this project will be a great success and also urge the Ministry of Housing and Environment, and STELCO, and the various institutions where this project has been set up, to work together, to make this successful, and to be able to show the benefits of this project, and also to pay attention to the management side of it, to the monitoring of it, and to generate the necessary information and data, that will be so useful for subsequent programmes.
Once again thanks to you all. Thank you.