Washington, D.C., May 3, 2005 — An innovative
new project to help impoverished rural communities in Azerbaijan gain access
to electricity, the “Energy Bus,” is now up and running, supported by
a partnership of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the government
of Azerbaijan, oil company BP, the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe, and the Eurasia Foundation.
The Energy Bus is a mobile source of information on energy conservation
and renewable energy generation that travels frequently throughout remote
parts of Azerbaijan. It informs local people about proven alternative energy
sources and helps them identify long-term, cost-effective solutions. These
include simple solar panel water heaters, wind power generators, mini hydro
plants, sawdust heaters, biogas units to generate cooking gas, and advice
on home insulation and energy efficiency. All technologies are designed
to produce energy from inexpensive resources available locally.
IFC's participation in the project comes through the SME Linkage Program
associated with its investments in the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field
development and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline projects. The linkage program
is designed to help local communities see more benefits from the large-scale
foreign investment project that carries Caspian Sea oil through Azerbaijan
and Georgia to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.
The government of Azerbaijan will lead the project as part of its drive
to bring energy to the rural communities. It plans to visit up to 150 villages
a year, traveling through most regions of Azerbaijan. The total cost of
the project is about $450,000, of which a third is financed by BP, $75,000
by IFC, and the remainder from the other partners.
The project is currently planned to last for two years with possible future
extension. It will be managed by the local non-governmental organization
Umid, one of the leading groups working to improve social conditions in
“IFC is pleased to be involved in this project as part of our larger effort
to ensure that local communities and businesses derive real, long-term,
and sustainable benefits from our investment in the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan
Project,” said Shahbaz Mavaddat, Associate Director of IFC's Southern
Europe and Central Asia Department. “This project highlights the need
to find solutions which will improve the population's access to energy
“As one of the biggest operators of regional energy projects, BP decided
to be involved in the Energy Bus because we saw it as an opportunity to
help people get access to low-cost diversified energy resources,” added
BP Communication and External Affairs Director Clare Bebbington. “This
will raise awareness of potential means of saving energy within communities
and also support the Azerbaijan government in its poverty reduction efforts.
The project will, where possible, use locally available low cost materials
and encourage local companies to create new manufacturing businesses to
provide energy saving equipment.”
The mission of IFC
(www.ifc.org) is to promote sustainable
private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty
and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in
the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial
markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability,
and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.
From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44
billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143
companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio
as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held
for participants in loan syndications.