Remarks at the Symbion Power Plant

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
June 12, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I am delighted to be here with all of you, and especially to be at this place where you can see the future of Tanzania taking place. I want to thank Paul Hinks for his comments about how he became involved in Tanzania, and I want to thank Pike Electric for their partnership, and GE, as well. And I am delighted to be with the minister of energy and minerals, as well as my colleague from the foreign ministry. And I thank Daniel Yohannes for his leadership of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

I find that standing in front of a very large jet engine, which is what I am now doing, one that will bring electricity to thousands of homes here in Tanzania, is a good metaphor. Because Tanzania is taking off. And you are taking off on so many fronts. But one of the most important is improving access to electricity. And that really means expanding what is possible with reliable, affordable electricity. Hospitals can stay open without fear 24 hours a day. Factories will be able to compete. New businesses and industries can start and succeed.

Today, the 14 percent of Tanzanians who have access to the electric grid struggle through blackouts and brownouts. Some people generate their own power at three times the cost, but most do not have power.

President Obama and I created the Partnership for Growth to help countries identify obstacles to growth, and mobilize our resources in meeting them. And Tanzania is one of four countries in the entire world, one of only two in Africa, that were considered eligible to be the first partners for growth. And we are eager to help Tanzania deliver reliable, affordable electricity to its citizens. That is why the MCC is such an important partner in this effort. I want to really acknowledge the great work that the MCC is doing, along with our private sector partners, to extend power lines across the country. (Applause.)

The island of Zanzibar, with about three-quarters of a million people, gets its electricity from a 30-year-old submarine cable to the mainland. And when that cable falters, the power goes out there, too. Through MCC, we are helping Tanzania build a new cable with more than double the capacity of the old one.

Now, building power lines and electric grids may seem to some like boring, dry, technical work, not something that the press would be interested from either Tanzania or the United States. But, in fact, if you are looking for the single biggest reason why development is not succeeding in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, it is because of the lack of energy, and the inability to deliver electricity to people where they can use it.

Now, in Tanzania we have found a government and a people that understand this. And I know how important it is to finish what we started together. I am convinced that this will not only be good for Tanzania, but Tanzania will be a model, not just for Africa, but for the rest of the world.

Now, we want to take every opportunity to help Tanzania overcome all of the obstacles to growth that you face with rural feeder roads, and we just visited a very important site for our program called Feed the Future. Then farmers can bring more products to market. With a more effective fee and payment system, Tanzania can attract investors who will provide even more access to electricity and energy.

But even as we expand Africa's energy supply, we need to ensure we are not worsening another obstacle to growth: climate change, and the effects we are already seeing here in Africa and elsewhere. Now, plans like this one, which runs on natural gas, can help us make the transition from coal-fired power to clean energy sources. This jet engine runs on natural gas. Tanzania happens to have natural gas. So this is another example of a good win-win strategy. The next major UN climate conference will be held in Africa, in Durban, South Africa. And the progress that we are making on food security, access to clean water, public health, and many other issues, will only be sustainable if we work together to mitigate and respond to climate change.

We believe in partnership, and we believe in competition. You heard Paul say that when MCC put out the bid to build power lines across this country, a lot of companies competed. But two American companies won. We are very proud of that because we, frankly, want more American companies competing for business in Africa. And we are going to take that message back to America, and urge them to get out here and compete for these foreign projects. (Applause.)

Now, these companies are not only investing in Tanzania, but, as Paul said, they are investing in the people, first and foremost. I love the idea that Symbion and Pike Power created a center, a school, to train Tanzanians in cutting edge technical skills. Now, are these some of the young men who are -- and others who are working there? Please stand up. I am very proud of you. Please, stand up. Very good young men and women. Yay! (Applause.)

I know that some of the local staff have even been sent to the Northwest Lineman College in Boise, Idaho. And I appreciate that you are coming back and sharing those skills. Thank you, sir.

I know that among the people who are being trained is a young woman, Agnes Shiu. Agnes? Now, Agnes wasn't hired to install power lines. Agnes was hired to become a cleaner. But she saw the other trainees studying to become linemen, and she knew immediately that's what she wanted to do. And so, Agnes became, as far as we can tell, the first and only linewoman working in Tanzania today. (Applause.)

These are jobs, these are electricity opportunities that I am absolutely committed to support. I told Paul it is one of the great puzzles, why providing electricity remains so hard for so many countries. In our own hemisphere, one of the great efforts we are undertaking is to help Haiti recover from that terrible earthquake. They didn't have a lot of energy before; we are going to try to help them have energy, going forward. But in country after country that wants to develop, electricity remains unavailable.

So, I don't want to put a lot of pressure Symbion and Pike Power, and on the linemen and the government, but this is important for everybody. If you do it right, we are going to go and tell that story across the world. And we are going to point to the successful efforts right here in Tanzania. Because it's one more story of a country headed in the right direction. Tanzania is a success story, a peaceful, growing democracy. And we are inspired by your progress, and we are very proud of the work of our partners on the ground. And we cannot wait to see the lights come on everywhere across your country. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/T48-16