Lack of inexpensive, reliable energy delivery is one of the chief obstacles to growth and development in much of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Today, some 1.2 billion people have no access to energy.
According to the International Energy Agency, 80 to 90 percent of future energy growth will take place in developing countries. New technologies in sustainable energy production and distribution will assist this growth and development. By utilizing available sources of renewable energy, these countries will be able to produce clean power and meet the growing needs of both rural and urban populations in an affordable manner.
The United States is collaborating on two major programs to increase sustainable energy production in these countries, and to deliver power to those who presently have no access to electricity.
Last year, President Barack Obama launched the Power Africa initiative. It brings together a number of U.S. government agencies, African governments, the private sector, and other partners, such as the World Bank and African Development Bank, in an effort to expand private sector involvement in the production of clean, efficient electricity generation capacity in sub-Saharan Africa, and to double access to electricity for under-served populations.
“President Obama announced at the Africa Leaders Summit an increased goal of 30,000 megawatts and 60 million connections in the Power Africa program,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Robert Ichord.
The United States has been a founding member of the the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, a United Nations program co-chaired by the Secretary General and the President of the World Bank. This initiative has three major goals: universal access to electricity and modern cooking fuels by 2030; doubling of the rate of energy efficiency by 2030; and doubling of the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030.
“Energy poverty is really important to address,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Ichord. “We cannot tell people that they have to wait decades before the grid comes to meet their needs.”
Advancing the pace of electrification is a necessity not only for increasing business and employment opportunities but also to improve health and social well-being.