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TMCNet:  OPIC & GE Finance Clean Cookstove Project in East Africa

[January 31, 2013]

OPIC & GE Finance Clean Cookstove Project in East Africa

WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government's development finance institution, is partnering with GE to finance a clean cookstove manufacturing project that will have a lasting developmental impact on both human health and the environment in East Africa. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the project at a State Department ceremony today.

Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires is one of the World Health Organization's top five threats to public health in developing countries, resulting in approximately four million premature deaths each year and causing a multitude of chronic illnesses and acute health problems such as pneumonia, emphysema, cataracts, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Women and young children are most at risk. Replacing traditional cookstoves and open fires with high efficiency stoves improves health, reduces carbon emissions, slows deforestation, and lowers fuel costs.

BURN Manufacturing Co. (BMC), the project's U.S. sponsor, will use a $3 million loan from OPIC and $1 million in financng from GE to establish a clean cookstove manufacturing facility in Kenya with satellite assembly plants in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The stoves will be sold to a variety of entities, including carbon asset developers and aid organizations. BMC will create over 200 manufacturing jobs in East Africa and more than 20 design and manufacturing jobs in Washington State. BMC's goal is to manufacture and sell 3.6 million clean cookstoves in East Africa by 2020.

"Clean cookstoves are a relatively simple technology capable of having a far-reaching, positive impact on both human health and the environment. Thousands of people in East Africa will enjoy healthier lives thanks to this innovative project, the result of an outstanding partnership between BURN Manufacturing, GE and OPIC," said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield.

Deb Frodl, executive director of ecomagination, GE said, "According to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, nearly half the world's population - three billion people - burn wood, dung and other biomass in open fires or rudimentary stoves as a source of heat and to prepare meals. We are proud to partner with BURN Manufacturing and OPIC to increase access to cleaner, more efficient cookstoves to help reduce environmental impact and improve the health of people around the world."

"This project is the culmination of my lifelong vision - a vision that I share with Secretary Clinton and the UN Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves - to reduce deforestation and indoor air pollution in the developing world," said CEO and Founder Peter Scott. "Today, through this partnership, we have an incredible opportunity to help realize this vision by locally manufacturing millions of high quality cookstoves in East Africa. Over the next ten years alone, we will transform the lives of more than 10 million people by reducing annual household fuel costs by up to $250, reducing indoor air pollution by up to 90 percent, and reducing deforestation by preserving more than 100 million trees."

In September 2010, Secretary Clinton announced the launch of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation. OPIC has committed to provide up to $50 million to the Alliance, which seeks to enable 100 million households to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020. OPIC's commitment is nearly half of the $114 million now pledged to the Alliance.

OPIC is the U.S. Government's development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds.

Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 150 countries worldwide. To date, OPIC has supported more than $200 billion of investment in over 4,000 projects, generated an estimated $75 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 277,000 American jobs.

About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's website at www.ge.com.


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