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Georgia's energy sector will be transformed through training

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, December 18
The new Centre of Excellence in Energy was officially established on December 17 by four Georgian Universities, the Georgian Technical University, the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET), Akaki Tsereteli State University and Grigol Robakidze University, signing a special memorandum at the Courtyard Marriott hotel. The establishment of this centre is being supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Centre of Excellence is a project of USAID’s Energy Capacity Initiative. Through its higher Education Grant Programme USAID helps higher education institutions develop sustainable graduate-level energy education programmes which meet the current and future needs of the Georgian energy sector by collaborating with these four Georgian Universities. The Centre created yesterday will provide education, applied research and training in the energy system.

The memorandum is not based on law, but is more of an ethical, moral agreement, said John Hansen, the USAID Energy and Environment Office Director. Hansen said that foreign developed countries, like the United States and some European countries, have wide experience of the formation of such centres. "USAID actively works in Georgia, and we think that the developed countries should assist less developed countries and share with them their experience of how to reach a higher level of development in various areas. By the creation of this centre we will help Georgian students know more about the energy sector and use this knowledge for their country’s development,” Hansen stated.

This initiative has been estimated by Deputy Minister of Energy of Georgia Mariam Valishvili as a very necessary and important step. "The establishment of a well planned and successful education system has vital importance for the country’s present and future development. I am thankful to USAID, as the agency’s representatives actively support projects much needed for Georgia. The country needs foreign experience, especially in the energy area, where we have serious gaps. When Georgian students are trained on the basis of foreign research and achievements they will be able to fill this gap,” Valishvili said.

The Universities with whom the memorandum was signed talked about the centre’s importance and expressed their satisfaction at achieving this agreement. Eric Livny, ISET’s Executive Director, told The Messenger that this agreement and the centre’s future activities will be very profitable for the Georgian energy system. "Foreign experience in the energy sector should be utilised in Georgian universities. The centre’s future activity, with the assistance of USAID, will not be providing technical support, practical activities, but educational support, such as how to make adequate decisions, how to enter into collaborations in the energy sector and so on. This will be very acceptable and profitable for Georgian universities and the country in general,” Livny suggested.

USAID’s Energy Capacity Initiative, of which the Centre of Excellence in Energy is a part, is a three year, $5.4 million project designed to enhance energy policy analysis capacity within Georgia, facilitate stakeholder dialogue on policy issues and support higher education programmes in energy. As part of the programme, USAID has funded the development of energy-related graduate degree programmes at the four universities which have signed the memorandum.