Access to Low-Cost Energy Vital to Eradicate Extreme Poverty

With more than a billion people continuing to live without access to electricity, the President of the UN General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser today said making low-cost energy readily available is vital to eradicate extreme poverty.

In his address to a conference organized by the Foreign Policy Association on the topic of “The Future of Energy,” Mr. Al-Nasser noted that it is clear that the basic energy needs of individuals without access to energy are not being met.

“Today, more than any time in the past, there is an urgent need to ensure the sustainable use of energy and to address the challenge of energy poverty.”

– Mr. Al-Nasser

A view of the solar voltaic panels for a renewable energy project in Fakaofo.

UN Photo/Ariane Rummery

Achieving Millennium Development Goals

Mr. Al-Nassir noted that it is widely recognized that the more energy is available to communities, the greater the impact on food security, health, education, transport, communications, water and sanitation.

He stressed that Energy has therefore become an important component, if not an essential means, of achieving the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs].

However, he noted that over the past decade, the international community has not managed to agree on meaningful action to tackle the challenge of climate change, including energy poverty.

The Assembly President called for the adoption of a new paradigm of consumption and production designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions; develop mechanisms to improve energy efficiency and ensure clean technologies are applied to fossil fuels; build capacities; facilitate access to renewable energy; and transfer technology.

Mr. Al-Nasser emphasized that international collaboration in boosting energy availability is a crucial way to ensuring success, adding that the cooperation should be between governments, academia, private sector and civil society.

In February this year, ten African countries were set to benefit from access to low-cost solar energy.

A Mauritius-based company ‘ToughStuff’ announced it will expand access to low-cost, durable solar panels and solar battery packs to low-income communities in 10 African countries (Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and four South Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal).

The solar provider will provide access to low-cost solar energy for 33 million people in Africa and Asia for the next four years.

The initiative is part of a United Nations-backed initiative to fight poverty.

The company will rely on a network of village-level entrepreneurs that are provided with training on how to sell, rent, or provide access to affordable energy services.

According to the UN;

  • One in every 5 people on earth lives without access to electricity and the opportunities it provides for learning and earning a living.
  • Sub Saharan Africa is most acutely affected by energy poverty. In Kenya just 18 per cent of homes have power.
  • An estimated 1.5 billion people still do not have access to electricity
  • Around 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass and coal as their primary source of energy.

    The initiative will also help to further the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in September.

    Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the sun. It has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar energy technologies include solar heating, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity and solar architecture.

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