A ground-breaking international conference bringing together African leaders and US energy providers, researchers and regulators was “indefinitely postponed” today due to the refusal of the Dept. of Homeland Security to issue visas to many of the key presenters and attendees originating from Africa, according to a City of Madison press release.
The US-Africa Energy Summit 2017 was scheduled to be held at the Monona Terrace in Madison on September 18-19, 2017. The summit would have offered firms and investors in the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa the means to seriously address the perennial shortage of electricity supply in their respective countries. In addition to private sources of funding, federal and state governments in Africa, the World Bank, the IMF, and the Power Africa project led by the US government, have dedicated material resources and funding to encourage private investments in the sub-continent’s energy sector.
Speakers would have included former and current energy ministers from different countries, ambassadors to the US as well as US ambassadors to these nations. US speakers included Senator Tammy Baldwin, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Patricia Kampling, President of Alliant Energy and Ellen Nowak, Chair of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
The conference was organized by the UW-Platteville International Business Center.
Alderman Samba Baldeh, Vice President of the Common Council and a native of the African nation of The Gambia, was scheduled to attend the conference.
“The action of the Dept. of Homeland Security has squandered a great opportunity for energy-deprived nations to work with advanced energy providers of the U.S. and Wisconsin,” Baldeh said in a statement. “This is part of a broad policy of the Trump administration to deny, stall and obstruct visa requests regardless of their source. These denials are for everyone from visits from a member of an immediate family to former heads of state. This policy isolates the U.S. from the business and culture of the rest of the world.”
Organizers of the sold out conference described the cause of the cancellation in its notice to conference registrants:
“This is primarily because of the denial of US visas to the vast majority of registered African participants, which, as a result defeated the purpose of the summit, and made it untenable. The organizing committee had worked tirelessly to rectify this problem but at the end felt it was better to postpone the summit at this time, and work towards its resolution for a future date.”