Low-income Africans and South Asians will have access to solar power thanks to an initiative called Business Call to Action (Bcta), supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) that encourages private sector efforts to develop inclusive business models that can have both commercial success and a positive impact in development.
The project will be executed by a Mauritius solar energy provider called ToughStuff, which will expand access to low-cost, durable solar panels and battery packs to economically excluded communities in Africa (Burundi, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal).
The company estimates consumers will save $520 million by switching from kerosene or biomass fuel to solar energy. The switch will prevent 1.2 million tons of greenhouse gases from going into the atmosphere by 2016. The company will train local people to promote adoption of its products.
“Companies like ToughStuff invest in communities by providing cleaner, healthier energy options through core business operations,” said Susan Chaffin, programme manager for BCtA. “This commitment will help to boost development and improve social equity in a sustainable way that is good for the environment and good for business.”
ToughStuff supports the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September, which seeks to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030. Nearly half of the world lacks reliable access to modern energy services and almost one quarter remains without access to electricity.