Over one billion people in the world lack access to electricity. You can easily imagine how difficult life is without electric lights, or basic appliances like a refrigerator, television, or computer. A new campaign called Power for All aims to increase electricity access to those in need.
“The market for solar light and power in the developing world is growing quickly to meet demand, and already reaching millions of households. Several GOGLA member companies are already outpacing the world’s traditional electrical utilities in terms of number of customers,” explained Koen Peters, a founding member of the Power for All campaign.
Technology that can help many of these hundreds of millions of people that are literally in the dark already exists. Solar power and energy storage systems on a small scale can provide electricity to remote villages and families. The key is to target the areas with the most need, such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Rwanda are just some of the countries that need the most support in order to improve electricity access, especially in rural areas.
“Current estimates to achieve basic energy access for the 1.1 billion living in energy poverty are $700 billion and 20 years. The financial costs are daunting and the opportunity costs are unacceptable. It is time to challenge the $700 billion mindset. By focusing on key accelerators that will help leapfrog ‘business as usual’ energy delivery–just as mobile phones leapfrogged telephone landlines in the developing world–we believe that we can achieve universal energy access in half the time for a fraction of the anticipated costs,” said Kristina Skierka, Campaign Director for Power for All.
She is quite correct -- simply getting solar lamps if a family has no electricity can improve its quality of life very much. Kerosene is used for lighting in some African countries and there are many injuries and deaths caused by accidental fires. The fumes can be toxic as well.
Without electricity, there is very little access to information. Improving electricity access is the first step in bridging the Digital Divide.
Power for All was founded by a number of organizations, including Solar Aid (a 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize finalist), Practical Action (a 2014 and 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize finalist), Off-grid Electric, Katalytix, Greenlight Planet, and D.Light (a 2013 Zayed Future Energy Prize winner).
Image by d.light