Sheikh Shakhbout at Expo 2020 Dubai: 'Clean energy is the only way forward'

Before his five-day trip to Africa, Minister of State speaks on his ambitions for growth and new friendships in world's most diverse continent

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Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, Minister of State, has his sights set on renewable energy and sustainability as growth sectors to be explored during a five-day visit to Africa that starts on Tuesday.

The Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation told The National he was keen on building new partnerships based on historical ties with African nations.

“A big area of interest is sustainability and that is why we are focusing on renewable energy,” he said after a visit to several of the Expo 2020 Dubai Africa pavilions.

“As we will look for more opportunities, this is on our agenda as we move away from fossil fuels.

The UAE can be part of the transformation that is happening in Africa
Sheikh Shakhbout, Minister of State

“Clean energy is the only way forward for a more sustainable future for the future generations and that is why our leadership is focusing on that sector.

“The UAE can be part of the transformation that is happening in Africa.”

Collaboration could be across different areas, he said, including higher education and entrepreneurship.

His trip comes as world leaders prepare to meet in Glasgow for crucial talks on keeping global temperature rises to 1.5°C. Leading figures have admitted there is a huge funding shortage for climate and development projects.

“The future is bright and together we will create new and great stories, new experiences and new prospects,” Sheikh Shakhbout said.

The continued engagement with Africa in green energy serves to reinforce the UAE’s position as a climate leader contributing to positive global action.

The country’s announcement for net-zero emissions by 2050 made it the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to launch a concrete climate commitment plan.

Sheikh Shakhbout is keen to grow partnerships with African nations and is seen during a visit to a pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Photo: MOFAIC

Sheikh Shakhbout said strong current ties with African nations were based on the vision of Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father.

“We expand on the bridge that has been built by our founding fathers, Sheikh Zayed and the senior leadership,” he said.

“Today, we are working side by side as true partners. We are transforming our societies towards a sustainable future for many generations to come.”

He added that this would “open doors for more opportunities to come which have the potential to power and elevate us as nations and lay new foundations for shared future development".

The minister also mentioned the large African diaspora living and working in the UAE.

During a visit to the Expo site on Monday, Sheikh Shakhbout spent time at several pavilions, including those of Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Angola.

He said the people-to-people interactions at Expo were important, even as people relied on virtual meetings and technology to work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sheikh Shakhbout spoke on how important it is to exchange knowledge, share culture and for representatives from visiting countries to express ways to deepen ties with the UAE.

“The UAE and Africa have strong ties based on principles of friendship and mutual respect,” he said.

“At Expo, this illustrates not only the strength of our relationship but the trust that has been built over the years and the opportunities ahead for both of us.”

Updated: October 25, 2021, 4:27 PM