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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                           (New Delhi, India)

For Immediate Release March 19, 2000



President Clinton will soon announce $84 million in clean energy initiatives for Bangladesh and the South Asia Region. The announcement will include $50 million for a four-year South Asia Regional Initiative (SARI) Energy Program to be funded and implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). SARI will encourage regional economic integration by promoting cooperation and trade in clean energy, natural gas and renewable energy sources such as solar power, among South Asian countries.

The partner countries for SARI include Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The initiative will provide technical assistance and training to support regional energy development, cooperation and eventual trade in energy resources among South Asian nations will have far-reaching economic, development and security benefits. Illustrative activities are a regional utility and regulatory partnership program with the U.S. Energy Association, and a regional energy business partnership program with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This initiative is an example of the Clinton Administration's efforts to encourage its partners to promote energy efficiency, public-private partnerships, and related climate change goals.

Included in the announcement is a ten-year $30 million agreement between the Government of Bangladesh and USAID to establish a new and separate clean energy program for Bangladesh. The purpose of the Clean Energy Program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; particularly by enhancing the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, as well as other partners; encouraging policies that promote production and use of cleaner fuels (such as natural gas); and reducing energy demand through increased efficiency.

The development of Bangladesh's energy sector can have substantial impact on the rate of economic growth of the country. Though demand for power is growing, Bangladesh currently has the lowest per capital consumption of commercial energy in South Asia as well as a large unsatisfied demand.

USAID will also provide $4 million for a Grameen Shakti five-year renewable energy program. The grant will support the promotion and marketing of photo-voltaic solar home systems for rural electrification of power small enterprises. Because the electrification is income generating, the program is expected to be self-sustaining. Grameen Shakti was founded in 1996 as a sister organization to Grameen Bank.

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