Reducing Energy Poverty in Italy Through Solar PV Market
Powertis, a Spanish company that focuses on the development and investment of large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, has announced an expansion plan to enter Italy’s solar PV market. This shift will bring Powertis closer to its goal of reaching one gigawatt (GW) of ready-to-invest assets by 2023. In addition, it will support the National Plan for Energy and Climate (NECP), which has set a target of +30 GW of PV capacity by 2030. Powertis’ growth into the solar PV market will also serve as an opportunity to decrease energy poverty in Italy by reducing the price of electricity.

What is Energy Poverty?

Energy poverty refers to people who are least likely to have access to energy services. This increases their likelihood of remaining poor. Energy poverty affects health by increasing the risk of cardiovascular or respiratory disease and the number of excess deaths in the winter, especially in colder areas. In 2017, estimates determined that 1.1 billion people do not have access to electricity and nearly 3 billion people cook meals with polluting fuels, such as charcoal, wood, kerosene and dung.

The Aim for Efficient and Affordable Energy

In 2011, the former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative to drive faster action towards achieving SDG7. SDG7 is the seventh goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is battling energy poverty by advocating for improved access to reliable, affordable, sustainable and modern energy for all. SE4ALL aims to double the global rate of improved energy efficiency and the global share of renewable energy by 2030. By working with government leaders, the private sector and civil society, SE4ALL hopes to ensure universal access to modern energy.

Energy Poverty and “Vulnerability”

The primary concern that Italy’s population faces when it comes to energy poverty is the uneven distribution of energy expenditure. The lowest 10% of Italian income-earners spend 4% of their budget on energy compared with the 1% that affluent households spend. This leads to a concept known as “vulnerability,” where the lowest 10% of Italian households have compressed purchasing power and reduced ability to purchase domestic or international goods and services.

Furthermore, as of 2017, Eurostat reported that 15.2% of Italy’s population cannot afford to adequately heat their homes. The inability of households to purchase an adequate amount of energy goods can have negative direct costs including increased stress on the healthcare system. It also has indirect costs such as a decrease in economic productivity and output in the community.

How Italy is Addressing the Issue

Italy’s government has created the National Energy Climate Plan (NECP) to address its energy poverty. The NECP aims to cover 30% of final consumption by renewable sources, reduce final energy consumption by 39.7% and aim for a 33% reduction in greenhouse gases. Italy introduced the NECP in December 2018 as a commitment and strategy to increase environmental protection and energy security while reducing polluting emissions, as the European Union put forward. So far, Italy has obtained “Medium” ratings in all of the categories after the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) evaluated it for 2020. This suggests that there has been a lack of implementing effective measures by the public sector.

Powertis’ Role in Reducing Energy Poverty

The CCPI evaluation also includes a “Low” rating for the “Renewable Energy – current trend” component, demonstrating the need to involve the private sector in producing more renewable energy for Italian markets. The inclusion of PV solar panels would improve Italy’s rating. According to Roberto Capuozzo, the Country Manager of Powertis in Italy, Powertis is one of many private firms working to address this need. It is operating as a leading company in the transition to a zero-emission economy. Powertis’ plans to develop PV projects in Basilicata, Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia and Lazio and increase its pipeline beyond over two gigawatts between Italy and Brazil.

Powertis is reducing the price of electricity by working with local community partners to structure the project’s financing and offer a lower price, in comparison to the cost of electricity for coal. Italy’s main issue is the inconsistent distribution of energy expenditure budgets for the bottom 10% of Italian income-earners in comparison with the top 1%. If prices for energy decrease, energy poverty should decrease. Powertis’ expansion to local communities in Basilicata, Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia and Lazio will offer these individuals more purchasing power and decrease their level of vulnerability. This will also benefit the economy by allowing them the ability to consume other goods and services. By increasing Italian households’ purchasing power, Powertis is increasing access to energy services and reducing energy poverty in Italy.

Powertis has expanded its reach into Italy’s solar PV market, thereby decreasing the price of electricity for Italian households. This has increased households’ access to energy services and subsequently increased their ability to dedicate more of their personal budget towards the consumption of other goods and services. The households’ lower level of vulnerability should also help to decrease energy poverty in Italy.

Natasha Nath
Photo: Flickr

enewable Energy in BrazilRenewable energy in Brazil is nothing new. For decades, the country has been a leader in producing some of the world’s largest quantities of ethanol, an eco-friendly fuel source for vehicles. Recently, Brazil invested in expanding their renewable energy sources by creating huge wind power plants and high-tech solar panels. This lowered the nation’s carbon emissions as well as creating countless jobs for citizens. With fewer fossil fuels being burned, air pollution becomes minimal, resulting in a healthier, happier way of life. Here are 5 facts about renewable energy in Brazil.

5 Facts About Renewable Energy in Brazil

  1. Brazillian winds can create up to 500 gigawatts of energy. Wind power is one of the ways renewable energy in Brazil is thriving. Wind power plants across the country create about 10 percent of all renewable energy used domestically. The production of wind farms is beneficial in more ways than just environmental. The turbines built along the coast create new jobs for the community while keeping city air cleaner than a coal power plant. Because of how large and powerful the turbines are, they boost the local economy while creating an overall better way of life.
  2. Globally, Brazil is the second-largest producer of hydroelectric power. As of 2018, renewable energy accounts for nearly 80 percent of all domestically produced energy in the nation. This means that after China, Brazil produces more hydroelectric power than any other country in the world. Around 65 percent of renewable energy comes from hydroelectric dams primarily along the Amazon River Basin. During times of drought or long heatwaves, other forms of renewable energy in Brazil supply the country with power. This includes solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal power, ethanol and biomass.
  3. All gasoline in Brazil contains ethanol. Ethanol is a common vehicle power source for renewable energy in Brazil. The country began creating ethanol in 1975 during the oil crisis. In 1976, Brazil launched the Fiat 147, introducing the world’s first mass-production of a completely ethanol-powered car. Since then, it became a normal fuel option for all drivers. Oxford University describes the nation’s sugarcane-based ethanol as “the most successful fuel alternative to date.” Currently, all gasoline in Brazil is a blend of between 25 to 75 percent ethanol, as required by law since 2007. It is also common for some cars to run on ethanol exclusively.
  4. Brazil has the world’s first sustainable biofuels economy. Support for renewable energy in Brazil continues to boost the nation’s economy. Hydroelectric power from the Amazon River Basin brings huge energy surges across the country. When drought occurs, the solar panels and wind turbines provide a reliable power source. In 2008, investors all over the globe declared Brazil as the world’s first sustainable economy powered by biofuels. As the Earth’s population grows, so does the demand for electricity. Without a sustainable method of generating electric power, the supply for coal becomes limited. Once thought of as a necessity only during war, coal rations are increasing internationally, leading to power shortages.
  5. As renewable energy in Brazil becomes more technologically advanced, investors are taking note. This is notable, especially in the wind energy sector. Wind turbines are cheaper and faster to produce than hydroelectric dams. Wind power is also more reliable during heatwaves or seasonal droughts. A U.S. International Trade Administration report shows that by the end of 2020, investment in Brazillian wind power will be just over $24 billion. This huge increase in funding will continue to boost the domestic economy and is expected to set a trend for other world leaders.

Renewable energy in Brazil continues to be an example on the world stage. Through sheer numbers alone, the South American country has proven that investment in sustainable, natural power sources are economically viable and eco-friendly. Almost the entire country is powered by wind, hydroelectric, solar and ethanol sources. This trend is expected to continue as the demand for sustainability grows internationally.

Asha Swann
Photo: Flickr

Durian Fruit Will Transform ElectricityAround the world, millions rise with sunlight and go to bed with the moonlight, not because of preference, but because of lack of choice. In 2016, 13 percent of people around the world did not have electricity. Lack of electricity hampers the development of impoverished nations around the world. Developed nations’ sustainability relies on electricity. According to the World Bank, lack of electricity hampers developments in healthcare, education, gender equality and occupations. However, many third world nations may not see electricity in their neighborhoods for many years to come. With approximately 940 million people living without electricity, a significant gap has developed between the haves and the have-nots. Upon observation of the gap, it was important for scientists to figure out how durian fruit will transform electricity everywhere.

What Is Durian?

Durian is a valued fruit native to tropical regions around the world, but most commonly found in Southern Asia in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Durian is most widely known as the smelliest fruit in the world, but it is also very nutritious. In fact, in many countries, different places have restrictions on where this fruit can and cannot go. Many South Asian cultures value durian fruit, but have no need of the skin; it is simply thrown away. Excitingly, experts figured out how durian fruit will transform electricity everywhere. Scientists discovered that durian fruit’s surface is transformable into something called aerogels—a part commonly used inside batteries.

According to Sydney University, the method is entirely non-toxic. The aerogels can replace parts of a standard phone battery. They perform much more efficiently than modern-day batteries do. While this non-toxic method will allow smartphones to charge at astonishing rates more consistently, it also opens up possibilities to provide impoverished communities with low-cost electricity initiatives.

This method differs from any others because of its convenience. Communities that value durian are already throwing out the skin. This means there is a cost-effective way to provide materials and a non-toxic manner of production, resulting in low-cost access to energy.

Benefits Of Electricity

With electricity, communities develop communication services. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this allows people to build their quality of living rapidly. If there is a lack of supplies or an important governmental initiative, communication services allow for this information and materials to be accessed much quicker than traditional methods. Along with communication services, electricity allows people to preserve goods for longer.

With the ability to produce low-cost energy, impoverished communities are more capable of accessing electricity into their daily lives. The implementation of electricity into underprivileged communities allows them to develop their quality of life.The durian may be the key to cheaper and more readily available electricity. This could provide people in developing countries with lower-cost electricity for everyday items. With objects such as refrigerators and freezers, underprivileged people can stock up on food, thus helping to diminish high rates of starvation. Furthermore, cleaner forms of electricity can provide light, heat and easier cooking.

– Cleveland Lewis

Photo: Unsplash

The Electrification of Vietnam 
Thirteen percent of the world’s population lacks access to electricity. This amounts to a whopping 940 million people living without electricity globally. People have made great strides in electrification. The year 2015 marks the first year in which the number of those without access to electricity fell below 1 billion, however, the world must continue efforts to address the large swathes of people continuing to live without this crucial resource. Electrification requires attention because energy access has a strong correlation with income levels and poorer households are far more likely to lack access to electricity. Due to this, access to electricity serves as an important social and economic indicator of poverty. Furthermore, electrification could be a cornerstone of poverty alleviation, economic growth and improving living standards. Here is some information about the electrification of Vietnam.

The Electrification of Vietnam

Vietnam’s rapid and total electrification is an impressive feat that has provided electricity throughout the nation. Since 2017, 100 percent of Vietnam’s population has access to electricity largely through the Vietnam Rural Electrification Programme. The program gave 82 million people access to electricity who did not have electrical grid access before. Vietnam progressed in its development agenda in efforts to provide better health care and improve overall welfare through its investment in electrification. Taking the time to understand the Vietnamese electrification process and its successes should allow people to apply these lessons in other regions where access to electricity is not as widespread.

Vietnam’s Electricity History

The Vietnamese electrification effort stems from the 1970s. After the Vietnam War and reunification, the Vietnamese infrastructure required a complete re-haul, electricity included. A major priority during this time period was connecting rice-producing areas to electricity for more efficient and modern industrial processes, as rice production was central to the Vietnamese economy. In the 1980s, Vietnam began to use renewable resources to power its rural electrification project. It did this in an effort to ensure that the focus was not only on urban economic development,  such as irrigation systems and other small rural industries, by building hydropower plants and corresponding high voltage transmission and distribution lines. Vietnam also enacted policy during this decade to support the shift in attention to rural areas. The Doi Moi Renovation Policy aimed to make electricity services more affordable and provide credit for rural consumers.

The biggest changes occurred beginning in the 1990s with the emergence of a clear state electrification strategy. One can see this in the Establishment of Vietnam Electricity, a large state-owned electricity company, along with other reforms, refocusing electrification programs on poor households and leading to a surge in rural electrification. This time period also saw the 1996 Resolution which also clarified the government’s goals, stating that Vietnam had a target of 100 percent of districts, 80 percent of communes and 60 percent of rural households to connect to the national grid by 2000.

The Vietnam Rural Electrification Programme

Aside from this, a huge part of Vietnam’s electrification in the 1990s was the Vietnam Rural Electrification Programme, launched in 1998. This program alone provided access to electricity to 82 million additional people. The program took a sustainable development approach to increase access, focusing on financing, institutional support and societal buy-ins.

The Vietnam Rural Electrification Programme receives its funding from a variety of sources including the central government, cross-subsidies made by charging urban customers a surcharge on each kilowatt-hour of electricity they use for rural development programs, contributions from rural parties, loans from commercial banks and the involvement of international donors including the Japanese government and OPEC.

The program garnered societal buy-ins and support for these projects through targeted program design. The success of the program was contingent on the training of local populations to assist authorities in planning and design so the system effectively served the community it aimed to aid. In the same vein, the program instituted the service agent model in running the projects. This method trained locals to do routine technical and commercial operations as well as regular maintenance. This not only reduces the operating costs of the electrical grid but also employs local communities, provides faster emergency response and fosters greater ownership of the electrical system by rural communities. Vietnam designed the entire program to include community participation in every phase. Because of this design, the program has been incredibly successful in increasing access and is an immense reason that Vietnam reached 100 percent electrification in such a short period of time.

While some pieces of Vietnam’s electrification journey are specific to the nation and its resources, such as access to hydropower, other nations lacking access to electrification can repeat much of the policy and programs. Others can learn much from Vietnam’s centralized planning and government investment allowing for the kickstart of the electrification project, as well as the local involvement in the implementation and use of diverse funding sources. Developing countries including Kenya at 63.8 percent access, Angola at 41.9 percent access and Chad at 10.9 percent access can model electrification projects after Vietnam’s, using renewable resources available in the nation’s regions. With such a successful example and proof that electrification is central to the quality of life and other modes of development including education and health care, the world must put more programs in place to increase access to electricity globally.

Treya Parikh
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Angola
Angola, the seventh-largest country in Africa, has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Since 2013, its economy has been booming and both international and domestic investments have been on the rise. Although Angola’s economy has the potential to become an economic powerhouse in Africa, the international community has become concerned with the poverty rates and overall income inequality in Angola. Despite Angola’s rapidly growing economy, it has a 26 percent unemployment rate and 36 percent of the Angolan population lives below the poverty line. The living conditions in Angola are indicative of an economy that is not yet diversified and a country with extreme income inequality. Here are 10 facts about the living conditions in Angola.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Angola

  1. Low Life Expectancy and Causes: Angola has a very low life expectancy. The life expectancy in Angola is one of the lowest in the world, and Angola has the 12th highest number of infant mortalities every year. The leading causes of death revealed that the low life expectancy is a result of preventable causes like diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, neonatal disorders and influenza.
  2. Literacy: A third of all Angolans are illiterate. Although primary education is compulsory in Angola, 33.97 percent of Angolans are illiterate and literacy rates have been on a steady decline since 2001. Very few individuals go on to college, leaving their economy stagnated with a brain drain and a lack of available employees for white-collar jobs that require a deep understanding of their field.
  3. Clean Water Availability: Angola has a lack of clean water resources. Forty-four percent of Angolans do not have access to clean water, according to the United Nations Children’s Agency. The Public Water Company in the capital of Angola, Luanda, reports that although the daily need for water is well over a million cubic meters of clean water per day, the public water company EPAL can only supply 540,000 cubic meters of clean water per day. This leaves many without clean water. Even if EPAL were to have the capacity to supply all residents with clean water, it does not have the infrastructure to do so.
  4. Access to Electricity: Few Angolans have access to electricity. In rural areas, only 6 percent of Angolans have access to electricity. In urban areas, 34 percent of Angolans have electricity, leaving 3.4 million homes without power.
  5. Income Inequality: There is a severe gap between wealth in urban and rural areas. Income inequality in Angola is one of the highest in the world at 28.9 percent. Poverty is highest in rural areas where 94 percent of the population qualifies as poor. This is contrasted by the fact that only 29.9 percent of the urban population qualifies as poor.
  6. Public School Enrollment: There is low enrollment in public schools and UNESCO reports that enrollment has been on a steady decline since 2009. The low enrollment rate may be because many schools and roads suffered during Angola’s civil war and because many schools are located in inconvenient and rural locations with poor sanitation and untrained teachers.
  7. Unemployment: Unemployment is very high in Angola. Angolan unemployment has increased by 1.7 percent since 2018, growing to 30.7 percent. The youth unemployment rate is at an all-time high of 56.1 percent.
  8. Oil-based Economy: The economy is not very diversified. Angola is an oil-rich country and as such, more than one-third of the Angolan economy comes from oil and over 90 percent of Angolan exports are oil. Because the oil sector has been public for so long, the economy was prone to contractions and inflations along with global fluctuation in oil prices. This has left the stability of the Angolan economy at the mercy of oil prices, which have been rapidly fluctuating, destabilizing the economy.
  9. Food Insecurity: Many Angolans suffer from severe food insecurity. In fact, 2.3 million Angolan citizens are food insecure, and over 1 million of those individuals are children under 5 years old. Because of government redistribution of land, many farmers have lost their best grazing land and their arable land for crops, leading to a lack of meat and produce.
  10. Unpaid Debts: Unpaid debts threaten to dampen economic growth. After a long economic slump, the Angolan economy has further suffered due to unpaid loans. Twenty-seven percent of total Angolan credits are loans that are defaulted or close to being defaulted, and 16 percent of the largest bank in Angola, BIA, are not being reimbursed.

Although Angola has a multiplicity of problems related to poverty to solve, the country is not beyond help. Angola’s new President has secured loans from China, garnered aid from the International Monetary Fund and promised to allow local businesses to partner with international customers and trade partners to increase macroeconomic growth. As Angola diversifies its economy in 2020, the President of Angola states that economic growth and stability is on the horizon. Angola’s economy is receiving aid from a number of nations, including China, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, which will no doubt prove to be a successful investment.

Denise Sprimont
Photo: Flickr

Energy in PeruAccess to electricity is oftentimes the precursor to further development of a region or country. Without electricity, there can be no significant upgrades in sanitation, health care, education, productivity, cooking, modern technology and internet access. Many of the sectors listed require development; however, much of Peru does not have access to these modern standards. As a result, Peru has begun to critically focus on energy accessibility in recent years.

Energy Access in Peru

The population percentage that has access to energy in Peru has increased from around 65 percent of people in 1992 to 95 percent in 2015. Much of the increase has come from Peru’s transition to mixing its energy sector with crude oil and natural gas thermal plants. Previously, Peru operated mainly on domestic hydropower plants.

Peru’s natural gas reserves primarily come from domestic sources. This includes sources such as the Camisea field and imports from Ecuador since the Andes have gas in abundance. Following natural gas, Peru’s oil sector is largely reliant on U.S. imports. From 2008 to 2014, the amount of crude oil imported from the U.S. has increased threefold.

Problems with Energy in Peru

Transitioning to a greater fossil fuel dependence is harmful to the environment; however, it has given the Peruvian population better access to electricity and has made energy in Peru much cheaper. Currently, the average price of electricity in Peru is around $13.4 c/kWh. Comparatively, the average price of electricity in the U.S. is about $13.19 c/kWh. Theoretically, once people have better access to electricity, their quality of life will improve. Additionally, incomes should increase, as well as further infrastructure development with greater energy access.

The biggest disparity of energy access is prevalent in the same regions with the biggest wealth disparities: rural areas. Only about 76 percent of those who live in the Peruvian countryside have access to electricity, as compared to 100 percent of those who live in cities. While 24 percent may not seem like a large number, this equates to about 1.6 million people that are still without electricity in rural areas.

Energy Improvement Initiatives

This does not mean that Peru is doing nothing to address the energy situation in rural areas. One such infrastructure overhaul initiative is the Peru Second Rural Electrification Project (RE2). This project follows up on RE1, which had already contributed to the increased regulation of the energy sector. RE1’s efforts also allowed for much more stable electricity access in rural communities. This was done through subsidizing solar home energy systems (SHS) and through developing online resources for private energy sources in order to more efficiently manage energy consumption.

RE2 expanded on RE1’s plan to increase physical electricity connections and promote self-sufficient energy sources like SHS’s. This is in addition to totally upgrading the Peruvian rural energy structure to grid extension and off-grid solar extensions. Ultimately, the plan brought electricity to more than 160,000 new people with roughly 48,000 of these people using SHS’s. The project, funded through the Peruvian government, loans/grants from NGOs and a $50 million loan from the World Bank, also takes the socioeconomic impact of increased electrification into account. Through the project’s provisions, those who have never used electricity in an extended manner before were educated on safe electricity use and how to limit consumption. In addition, 12,300 training kits were distributed to rural communities that have new access to electricity.

Future Access

Through efforts from the Peruvian government and international organizations, energy access in Peru has continued to improve over the past three decades. Not only is electricity more easily accessible for Peruvians, but it is also cheap enough to adequately distribute. By properly educating the rural population on the safe use of electricity, Peru has also better ensured a low level of electrical accidents. In this way, Peru is doing all the right things to facilitate a quicker, safe and ethical development of its rural communities that will ensure a better future for all Peruvians.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr


The Kingdom of Morocco lies in the northwestern corner of Africa. A desire for the country to become less energy-dependent and more dedicated to the preservation of the environment brought on rapid progress in renewable energy. Drawing attention from energy and environmental communities alike, Morocco has an ambitious goal to reach 42 percent renewable energy by 2020. Making use of its most abundant natural resource, the sun, has greatly helped the country stay on track to meet this goal. The success of solar power in Morocco allowed the country to reach 35 percent renewable energy as of July 2019.

The Noor-Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Complex

Sitting near the southeastern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is a solar energy complex. The Noor-Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Complex is a massive, more than 6,000-acre facility (roughly the size of San Francisco) that produces enough energy to power the country’s capital Marrakesh twice over. Additionally, the solar plant brings a new level of ingenuity to solar power in Morocco. A traditional solar plant faces the problem of supplying consistent power when the sun is not out. Batteries that temporarily store power are expensive and the environmental impacts are questionable.

In contrast, the Noor CSP Complex can supply constant power 24/7 to the 2 million people who draw power from it. Rather than using photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity, the plant utilizes two million sun-tracking mirrors that reflect light to a receiver at the top of the 800-foot tower in the center of them all. The receiver has a mix of liquid salts that superheats and stays hot for 7.5 hours, which is important since energy usage spikes in the evening after the sun sets. The stored heat then superheats water tanks that create steam and turn turbines to generate electricity. The energy then flows out to the public, much like any other electricity but furthers energy independence of the country.

What Does This Mean for Poverty?

People have long thought of adequate access to electricity as one of the fundamental aspects of development. The World Bank goes as far as to say that electricity is “at the heart of development.” In Morocco, much of the population has access to electricity due to the affordability of its energy sector. The recent drive to invest in renewable energy caused the price of electricity to drop significantly. Additionally, renewable energy assures Morocco’s rural population that their source of energy is affordable. According to Mohammed Jamil al-Ramahi, the CEO of Masdar (the company that received the contract for the Noor CSP Complex), “It is now cheaper to build renewable energy power plants than those based on fossil fuels.”

Not only is renewable energy cheaper by itself, but since Morocco started investing in domestic power generation, it can bring electricity to its citizens without worrying about the price of importing oil, coal and electricity from other countries. This also allows for greater energy security and gives Morocco a better stance on the international stage. In addition, the devotion to renewable energy and solar power in Morocco has shown the world that it is dedicated to the U.N.’s seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Morocco is not only helping its poorest people and paving the way for greater rural development, but it is also doing so in a remarkably sustainable way that is largely unprecedented on an international scale.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

Air Pollution in Nigeria
Nigeria has the largest number of deaths due to air pollution in Africa, while the country ranks fourth for air pollution across the globe. Statistics indicate that in 2016, 150 fatalities occurred per 100,000 people as a result of this environmental issue. The State of the Global Air Report that the Health Effects Institute (HEI) published determined that Nigeria’s air quality is amidst the most lethal worldwide. Atmospheric threats such as generator fumes, automobile emissions and crop burning cause air pollution.

In 2016, The HEI indicated that industrialized countries like Russia and Germany have reported lower death rates than Nigeria with 62 and 22 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, developing countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have reported much higher rates with 406, 207 and 195 deaths per 100,000 people.

Causes of Air Pollution in Nigeria

Air pollution emits through generator fumes which produce the deadly gas carbon monoxide. Automobiles with older engines are also likely to emit unhealthy fumes into the atmosphere. In households, kerosene stoves produce flames that contribute to the poor air ventilation. The nation creates over 3 million tons of waste yearly and most Nigerians burn their waste in their neighborhoods rather than discarding it, contributing more pollution to the atmosphere. Another aspect that contributes to the air pollution crisis in Nigeria is the use of firewood and coal to cook.

Additionally, indoor air pollution in Nigeria is also a big issue, as the amount of fine particulate matter levels in many households surpass air quality guidelines by 20 times. In 2012, according to the WHO, Lagos, Nigeria experienced nearly 7 million deaths caused by indoor and outdoor air contamination.

Air contamination across the African continent kills over 700,000 people annually; more people die from air pollution than unsanitary hygiene practices and undernourishment. Casualties as a result of the air pollution crisis in Nigeria has increased by nearly 40 percent in the last 30 years. Nigeria has some of the highest rates of unhealthy air quality across the African continent. Overall, Nigerian cities contain the most unhealthy air quality with 10 urban areas being classified on a list of 30 cities in Africa with the most unhealthy air quality.

The Effects of Air Pollution in Nigeria

While developed countries have effective solutions in place to handle air pollution, underdeveloped countries are struggling to handle this environmental issue. Some countries have begun taking appropriate measures to handle it, though. As a result, the number of people exposed to air pollution has decreased from 3.5 billion in 1990 to 2.4 billion in 2016.

The report also indicated that 95 percent of the globe’s citizens are intaking polluted air. In 2016, extended subjection to air pollution contributed to roughly 6 million deaths, all resulting from diseases such as strokes, lung disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma and heart attacks. Air pollution is one of the top leading causes of fatalities, particularly in underdeveloped countries, even after smoking, increased blood pressure and unhealthy diets. Exposure to air pollution also increases the risk of developing cancer.

Solutions to the Air Pollution Crisis

In order to effectively handle the air pollution crisis in Nigeria, it is important for the country to provide regular inspections of automobiles to ensure that older cars are not releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. It is also integral that Nigeria removes cars from the road that are toxic to the environment.

The implementation of efficient electric energy will help decrease the need for generators, which produces unhealthy air pollution in households and work environments. However, Nigeria does have access to sustainable energy resources that are capable of providing power to its citizens. These methods are safer for the environment and the usage of them decreases the use of gasoline-powered generators, thus decreasing pollution.

Nigerians can reduce air pollution in the household by substituting fuelwood for biogas, which is a form of biofuel that is instinctively manufactured from the decay of natural waste. Biogas will provide sustainable options for preparing food and heating the household while eliminating air pollution both inside the household and the outside environment.

In terms of trash disposal, recycling methods will be helpful to make certain that people are not burning waste. Additionally, daily waste removal from households will also help to properly dispose of trash, which reduces the fragmentation of waste and prevents odors that contribute to air pollution.

Additionally, factories that are within metropolitan areas follow guidelines regarding sustainable practices in order to decrease air pollution in Nigeria. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) monitors operations to ensure that these work environments are abiding by the pollution proclamations.

In conclusion, the execution of environmentally friendly practices in Nigeria will help decrease the air pollution crisis in Nigeria that is present in households, businesses and the outside environment. In order for the elimination of air pollution to be effective, the country must pursue the regulations for all Nigerians.

Additionally, it is necessary to inform communities regarding the sources and consequences of air pollution in order for them to effectively take action in decreasing the issue. Furthermore, those that become more knowledgeable of the issue are then able to educate others and persuade the Nigerian government to continue to enforce legislation against air pollution.

Diana Dopheide
Photo: Wikipedia

Eswatini, formerly called Swaziland, is a small, mountainous, landlocked country surrounded on all sides by South Africa and in close proximity to Mozambique. While Eswatini is classified as a lower-middle-income country, it is still plagued with severe poverty and high unemployment rates. One demonstration of this poverty can be seen by the approximately 900,000 individuals who were recorded to have no access to electricity in 2017. This is due in large part because Eswatini does not produce much of its own electricity. Rather, they get much of it, along with many other imports, from South Africa. In recent years, organizations like the World Bank have been working to improve Eswatini’s electricity supply, but there is still much work to be done.

Governmental Efforts

In Eswatini, The Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA) regulates the country’s electric supply industry, while The Eswatini Electricity Company (EEC) acts as the national utility. The Eswatini Electricity Company is state-owned and controls hydropower stations in Maguga, Ezulwini, Edwaleni and Maguduza. Despite this, Eswatini is a net importer of electricity due to the fact that its domestic electricity generation is insufficient to meet national demand. This can be attributed in large part to a lack of water storage, which has led to severe variations in annual domestic generation output over the years.  However, the Eswatini Government is looking to become more energy independent in the near future and has implemented the Rural Electrification Program (REP), which has increased the percent of Eswatini residents with access to proper electricity from 5 percent in 2003 to 75 percent in 2017.

The World Bank’s Role in Eswatini’s Electrical Supply

In conjunction with the REP, the World Bank has also aided in improving Eswatini’s electricity supply. One of the World Bank’s most notable projects in Eswatini is called the Network Reinforcement and Access Project.  It contains four parts. The first two components focus on strengthening the transmission and distribution network in Shiselweni and building upon the REP program to finance additional household connections. The third component provides analytical support by financing technical aid, and the 4th component is designed to improve Eswatini’s ability to respond to major economic or social emergencies. These efforts by the World Bank have proved to be extraordinarily helpful in Eswatini’s efforts to become a nation that produces its own energy.

Final Steps

Eswatini has taken major steps forward to address their issues with producing electricity.  However, the country is still struggling overall in this regard, and more work is necessary in order for the nation to become energy independent.  Funding from the World Bank, as well as from organizations like the UN, will be of great help to Eswatini as it seeks to improve access to electricity for its residents.

– Jade Thompson
Photo: Flickr

SolarAidHaving access to working electricity and lights is something most first-world countries tend to overlook and forget to point out how fortunate it is to have such a thing. Unfortunately, there are countries who do not have that privilege and have to cut the day short, which interferes with work and children’s studies. SolarAid is a charity founded in 2006, to combat poverty and provide electricity to developing countries such as Uganda, Malawi and Zambia. They are responsible for many innovations including solar lamps, study lights and solar light libraries. SolarAid charity works alongside numerous partners and even created their own social enterprise, SunnyMoney in 2008, located in Africa so that rural communities have a local main seller and can receive information on how to use solar lights. This charity has done many projects that have transformed and impacted the communities within Africa.

Uganda

In 2014, SolarAid started doing projects in Uganda. Households in small, remote villages in Uganda rely on expensive kerosene for lighting where residents have to travel back and forth to trading centers to buy the kerosene which can get expensive over time. Many schools were also affected by the lack of light until SolarAid created the “world’s most affordable light”. The SM100, also known as a study light, is the world’s most affordable light selling in rural communities for as little as $5, tax-free. This light can be charged in low sunlight and provides light for about five hours. It has a stand attached so that it could easily be set up on the ground and it can also be hung on the wall. Because of its rectangle shape, the SM100 can be taken off its stand and can be attached to straps so that residents can carry it around or use it as a head torch.

A 70-year-old widow, who raises her four grandchildren, lost their hut due to her grandchild knocking over a kerosene lamp sparking a fire. With the SM100, this light is safe for her young grandchildren to use. Students at the Star Light primary school have successfully increased their grades due to having an adequate light source.“My teachers used not to plan their lessons at night and candidate class was limited to the use of three kerosene lamps but ever since I purchased 40 SM100 for my pupils and teachers, everything changed”, said Okello George, the director of the school board. This light has provided many solutions for the community in Uganda that are safe and efficient with doing everyday tasks.

Malawi

On April 1, 2019, SolarAid launched Project Switch in the Mandevu village in the Kasungu district of Malawi providing the village with solar light for the first time. This village has zero access to electricity cutting days short once the sunsets. During the execution of Project Switch, SolarAid provided this village with a solar charging station which is essentially a building with different solar energy enabling options such as renting solar lights for a few pennies and rent to own lighting options including phone charging systems. There is also an option to outright buy solar lights systems. SolarAid has also provided lights and switches inside of households where people are able to turn on a light with just one light switch, something this village has never experienced before.

Along with this, SolarAid teamed up with the Malawi Red Cross after Cyclone Idai hit neighboring countries and caused flooding and high winds forcing 86,000 people to leave their homes and into emergency camps. Interested to see how light can have an impact in aid relief, the Malawi Red Cross and SolarAid provided the emergency camps with 100 solar home systems, and 100 portable solar lights. These systems can help charge phones, keep women and children safe and reduce the risk of dangerous animals or reptiles such as poisonous snakes.

Zambia

Just like in Uganda, SolarAid’s participation in Zambia has positively impacted the school environment. In January 2019, SolarAid’s social enterprise team SunnyMoney in Zambia sought out to rural areas where the majority of the community is living without electricity power lines. They visited a rural school in the Rufunsa district and delivered a solar light library. The solar light library is available for children to use throughout the day to study and do homework, mostly after dark. Throughout the day, there are household chores, farm work, etc., and children, especially girls considering they tend to the majority of the daily household tasks, have little daylight left to do schoolwork. They rely on battery-powered torches or candles, items that don’t last long enough to get an adequate amount of homework done. There are 50 lights available to borrow in the solar light library for as low as 25 Zambian Kwacha (which is roughly two U.S. dollars).

SolarAid is the perfect example of a charity who is taking advantage of the knowledge of renewable energy and using that knowledge for a great cause. With their brilliant innovations made specifically for developing countries, communities will no longer have to suffer to do important tasks throughout the night. As the fight for solar-powered energy continues to increase, these three countries now have the help they need to continue to shine the light in their communities.

– Jessica Curney
Photo: Flickr