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The right use for aid

Calling for a distinction between the "under developed countries" (UDCs) and the "half way developed countries" (HDCs) when discussing overseas aid and renewables. HDCs have the capacity to continue forward momentum from aid projects and should be seriously considered as partners by developed countries.

Professor Erico Spinadel, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

From Professor Erico Spinadel, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

I feel it is necessary to make a distinction between what could be called "under developed countries" (UDCs) and what could be called "half way developed countries" (HDCs) when discussing overseas aid and renewables.

The United Nations International Development Organisation (UNIDO) is fully aware that technical assistance given to UDCs is of little or no long term benefit. The reason is that a programme usually ends with the departure of the experts -- and nothing more happens. Yet if the same assistance is offered to HDCs, the results are far more positive. More consideration should be given to assisting HDCs with research and development programmes. In an HDC it is usually possible to find the necessary critical mass of capable scientists and engineers.

It is my experience that invited speakers from HDCs at conferences on renewable energy are far more likely to show a real interest in discussing technical matters than most other participants. Those who come from highly developed countries tend to regard congresses and conferences as commercial opportunities. At this year's European Union Wind Energy Conference (EUWEC '96) in Göteborg there were many technical presentations from HDCs, but not a single one from a UDC.

I suggest that HDCs be seriously considered as partners by developed countries. Foregone conclusions should not be drawn about them before the trouble has been taken to discuss their energy problems with them. As a rule, where there is wind there are no grids, or if there are, people have no access to them. There should be more co-operation with universities and R&D centres in the HDCs. It is not wise to only co-operate with politicians (who are sometimes corrupt). Neither is it sensible to arrive with the sole purpose of opening a new market. I write with the recent Danish delegation to Argentina in mind.

The proposal by a Dutch speaker at EUWEC '96 for importing wind energy is not to be despised. Neither should my presentation on wind generated hydrogen as an energy source from the Argentine Patagonia. The hydrogen could be shipped to Europe and used there to generate electricity. At the next EUWEC conference I hope some seats will be reserved on the final discussion panels for delegates from HDCs. Only through close co-operation and joint ventures will sustainable markets be found outside Europe. In that way an investment will actually be made in environment protection (and not just talked about).

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