Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Energy for Africa

 Parts of Africa will get left behind in the global push to provide electric power to all unless national governments and the international community agree on a plan for faster action in places that are lagging, a top energy official has warned.
Of the roughly 1 billion people who still lack access to electricity around the world, nearly 600 million live in sub-Saharan Africa, with the vast majority in rural areas.
"The proportion of the billion that lives in sub-Saharan Africa is increasing," said Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), a body set up by the United Nations.
"Within Africa, some countries are going faster than others, but those that aren't going fast are going to get left behind because you need that electricity ... you need that clean energy for the urban growth and economic development they all want," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation
data shows rates of progress are still too slow to meet the targets, with poor, marginalised people set to suffer most as a result of that shortfall, experts say.
Kyte gave examples of those most likely to be overlooked: a woman running a household in a rural community where men have left to seek work in the city; a disabled family head living in an urban slum; or an indigenous nomad in Mongolia or the Sahel. Such households may be the hardest to reach using the traditional method of connecting homes to the power grid - but there are alternatives, Kyte emphasised.
"With mini-grids, micro-grids or off-grid systems, those people are reachable, and they are reachable with clean energy and they are reachable affordably," she said
Switching from polluting fuels such as kerosene and diesel to solar power can improve people's health, help children study and allow small businesses to flourish, experts say.
"Distributed energy" solutions - small-scale systems that operate independently of the main grid and are often powered by renewables - can be built quickly and nimbly in difficult situations, Kyte said.
They are also suitable for use in and around camps for refugees and displaced people, where failure to provide solar lamps or efficient cooking stoves can lead to deforestation.
Another priority for poor nations is energy efficiency, she said, which could help avoid pollution and smog in their cities.
"If you talk about energy efficiency as the way to ensure clean air, clean water, low energy bills, buildings you want to live in, transport you want to travel in, then that becomes a big part of leaving no one behind," Kyte said.

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