American conglomerate General Electric and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding, forming a development partnership to enhance industrial infrastructure and research alternative energy use in the Kingdom.
GE, one of the largest companies in the US, plans to work alongside MIME to promote energy initiatives involving advanced gas turbine technology and efficient smart grid technology, according to GE Vice Chairman John Rice.
“As one of the dynamic countries in ASEAN today, Cambodia’s location between Vietnam and Thailand means it plays a strategic role in the rapidly growing cross-border trade,” he said.
The MoU was signed by Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem and GE Asia regional president Kenji Uenishi at the ministry on Monday.
“This is the first time we have signed an MoU with MIME. It is in place to address the country’s growing power needs, which has been increasing at approximately 25 per cent a year,” Kenji Uenishi said.
He added that it coincides with Cambodia’s rural electrification programme, which is expected to provide electricity via power grids to 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s households by 2030.
“Our partnership will focus on the measurement and feasibility of grid application and agricultural waste-to-energy biomass power projects.”
While almost three quarters of households are expected to be on the grid by 2030, Cambodia hopes to supply electricity to every village in the Kingdom by 2020, MIME Secretary of State Ith Praing said yesterday.
“We are trying to take advantage of our natural energy resource in order to supply to all the villages. With the assistance of green energy, we can spread power to 100 per cent of the rural villages,” he said, adding that private sector involvement would be significant in achieving this.
“We welcome all private partners to invest in renewable energy – it is very important to have these partnerships, only private investors can increase the development of our country.”
Following the signing ceremony, GE's Rice met with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An to discuss the possibilities of further assistance from the company, according to Council of Ministers Spokesman Ek Tha.
Sok An told General Electric’s vice chairman that Cambodia required more investment in building capacity and creating jobs, he said.
“We are seeking your assistance in training and capacity building – these are important contributions to developing the country,” Sok An was quoted as saying by Ek Tha.
In response to the Deputy PM’s call, GE said it is considering implementing one- or two-week courses that will focus on leadership skills, Ek Tha told the Post yesterday.
He added that GE intends to set up a pilot project to produce bio-fuel from rice husks, however, it would initially need to seek financial cooperation from local banks.
GE is already involved in transportation, energy and health infrastructure and to date has provided the Ministry of Health with US$5 million worth of medical equipment, a figure Rice said will increase to $7 million, according to Ek Tha.