United Nations has called on
businesses, governments, and
civil society to achieve Sustainable
Energy for All by 2030
Richenda’s Message – October 2015
It is heartening to hear about so many new initiatives on energy access being recently launched or expanded by UN Member States, UN agencies, private sector and NGO partners in support of achieving universal energy access under the new Sustainable Development Goal seven, by 2030.
Just last week, here in Washington, DC, we were honored to join practitioner network members at the White House for an exhibition and roundtable on energy access featuring new products and approaches, as well as announcing energy access commitments including UNF’s work within Sustainable Energy for All on health clinic electrification. This initially plans to power 80 African health facilities with decentralized renewable energy, supporting more than 1,000 health care workers, serving nearly 1.4 million people, and improving health care service delivery affecting approximately 500,000 outpatient visits annually.
The work of a number of innovative companies in the network was also highlighted, including All Power Labs, Sun Edison and others. Especially welcome was the announcement of investments into companies including Simpa Networks and Off-Grid Electric as well as new funds in formation for investment into companies providing off-grid energy services, alongside the ongoing work of groups like Factor(E) Ventures that provide much needed early stage seed investment capital into the sector. And the United Nations Environment Program announced plans to expand its existing en.lighten initiative with a new Global Lighting Challenge, focusing on quality and performance standards for off-grid lighting products.
Perhaps most importantly came the “Lumière pour Tous” commitment by Prime Minister Zinsou of Benin to bring energy access to Benin’s eight million people still lacking electricity. He outlined an approach with support from the U.S. government leveraging private sector engagement, to build markets for renewable energy products and services powering homes and communities, and providing new employment opportunities. He also made an impassioned case for the urgent need for prioritizing electrification in health system strengthening, noting that without electricity, it is “better to have surgery before sunset” and “not to have pregnancy complications.”
The governments of Kenya and Bangladesh focused their commitments around quality standards for solar systems and off-grid appliances.
On the same day in the UK a new Energy Africa campaign was launched by the Department for International Development to help catalyze further action in the sector, with a focus on building markets and overcoming remaining regulatory hurdles for off-grid service delivery. Full details about all these announcements and initiatives are provided in the newsletter.
As the sector now matures, and as the fourth Global Off-grid Lighting Summit is being convened in Dubai drawing more than 500 representatives from manufacturing and distributors in the off-grid sector, and showcasing many of the best and brightest of the off-grid companies across the world, the importance of approaches addressing quality solutions and services, affordability, sustainability in delivery and ongoing operations and supporting market development, and accessibility for those for whom solutions have been out of reach must remain front and center in our ongoing collective work .
All in all a bright few weeks for energy access.