MENA Countries Shopping for Electricity Providers

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are seeking partners to improve their growing energy demand. Several projects are in the works, and the Obama administration is taking steps to help U.S. companies win contracts in the region.

MENA countries will need to diversify their energy sources, upgrade transmission and distribution systems, and build new power plants, U.S. Trade and Development Agency officials said at a Washington briefing on Monday (Nov. 16). The event sought to prepare stakeholders for the "MENA Power 2010: A Middle East and North Africa Technology and Projects Forum", which will be held in Cairo, Egypt, next year.

USTDA will sponsor the forum in cooperation with the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Commercial Service, an arm of the International Trade Administration that helps U.S. companies export their goods and services. The forum, scheduled for May 24-26, will gather MENA policymakers and U.S. financial institutions and companies providing power technology and service solutions. A significant portion of the agenda will focus on project opportunities for U.S. firms: More than 30 power projects valued at a range of $2 million to $200 million will be presented at the forum.

The forum will address benefits of shifting from a reliance on oil to greater usage of natural gas, the huge potential for alternative energies such as hydroelectric, solar, wind, and biomass, and the importance of upgrading existing transmission and distribution systems to make power collection and delivery more efficient.

U.S. firms have the expertise to provide technical solutions for restructuring and modernizing transmission and distribution systems, Ahmad Ghamarian, president of the Energy Markets Group, at the pre-forum briefing this week. Other companies will have an eye on these projects, he argued, but many do not have the technical expertise that U.S. firms have.

Ghamarian did acknowledge that countries like China and Korea do have a competitive edge as they tend to charge lower fees than U.S. competitors.

He said that smart-grid technologies will help to implement generation of electricity using smaller sources closer to the end user, called distributed generation, as well as increase the efficiency of power collection and delivery.

More than 200 participants are expected to attend the upcoming MENA forum. Countries participating in the upcoming MENA forum include Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, and the West Bank. Government officials and transmission company representatives from these countries will be attending, as will officials from international finance institutions, power equipment and service providers, leading industry organizations, and representatives of the USTDA and the Departments of State, Energy, and Commerce.

In addition to technology workshops, presentations about upcoming power projects and panel discussions, there will also be time for private, one-on-one meeting sessions with MENA power project delegates. Registered U.S. participants who are interested in a meeting must make a request in advance. USTDA welcomes project inquiries from interested parties before the forum as well.

The registration fee for all U.S companies and financial institutions is $450. Regional firms from participating MENA countries pay a registration fee of $250.

About the author