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In 2012, the Emergency Infrastructure Renewal Project was approved in Cote d’Ivoire. The project’s goal is to create easier access to infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire in the rural and urban areas. The project is set to run until 2020 and will create new all-weather roads through many rural areas as well as other advancements to help further Cote d’Ivoire’s economy. The bulk of the project, around 30 percent, will focus on urban transport.

In the last five years since the Emergency Infrastructure Renewal Project began, many Ivoirians have already begun to reap the benefits of the project, especially those in the rural and impoverished areas. The following are five positive consequences that have directly resulted from the project.

  1. Access to Electricity: By 2017, over 9,000 people in urban areas were granted access to electricity by household connections.
  2. Potable Water: The project has helped bring healthy drinking water to more citizens of Cote d’Ivoire. In 2017, 3,735,000 people had access to improved drinking water, versus only three million in 2012.
  3. Access to Primary Education: The new infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire has also increased the access to primary education in the rural areas to over 18,000 people in 2017.
  4. Better Health Care Centers: Thanks to the advancements made by the Emergency Infrastructure Renewal Project, 1,400,000 people now have access to adequate health care centers in the rural and impoverished urban areas.
  5. Increased Employment: The new infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire has increased employment opportunities across the country and lowered the unemployment rate to 9.32 percent in 2016.

Unfortunately, despite these advancements in infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire, the country has still had many setbacks. In 2015, statistics showed that nearly 46 percent of Cote d’Ivoire’s population lived below the poverty line. Many of these people live in rural areas where the advancements from the project have not yet reached.

Ultimately, the infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire is slowly helping advance the country’s economy. Most of the major benefits will take years to come into full effect. The maturity limit on the Emergency Infrastructure Renewal Project is set for about 40 years, giving Ivoirians plenty of time to help contribute to the project and start harvesting their benefits.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

solar energy
Solar energy was the fastest growing source of energy in 2016, surpassing the net growth for coal. Times have changed; new governmental policies and technological developments have propelled the growth of the solar energy market and expansion is expected to continue. Developing countries near the equator are uniquely situated in ideal solar environments. As the market for solar energy grows, developing nations are benefiting from solar farm investments and solar energy power.

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) was invented in 1954, with the aim of converting sunlight into electricity. Solar PV is the most commonly used source of solar energy in today’s market and exist mostly as monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin-film solar panels. Advances in the solar energy market are using different materials such as cadmium telluride to build less expensive and more efficient PV panels. In the past five years, PV system pricing worldwide has dropped an average of $1.50 in Watts direct current. The drop in cost has contributed to the market’s growth.

In 2016, 1.3 million people around the world were living without electricity. Solar energy is emerging as a way to provide affordable and reliable electricity access to the populations forced to live in the darkness as soon as the sun goes down. At Swamy Vivekananda High School in India, for example, solar panels are used to charge batteries during the day while stored energy is used to power lanterns when students return home.

Solar energy solutions are the key to solving global poverty among populations without access to electricity. The availability of light can save families up to $100 a year and gives children more time for work, thus an opportunity to rise out of poverty.

This year, solar PV additions surpassed the growth of any other energy form. Last year, for the first time ever, developing countries like India, China, and Mexico invested more in renewables than developed countries. This trend towards a more affordable and efficient solar energy system has seen a rise in investments for off-grid solar systems and the emergence of new organizations focused on building energy solutions in developing countries.

Off.Grid:Electric is a startup that supplies customers in Tanzania a solar panel, metered battery storage and electrical accessories installed in their home. In Tanzania, specifically, 84 percent of the country is living without electrical connectivity. Off.Grida:Electric allows their customers to connect to their own electrical grid for about the same price per month as Tanzanians would spend on a nights worth of Kerosene. Off.Grid:Electric recently received $7 million worth of investments to hopefully expand to countries like Uganda and Kenya.

The world is moving into an era of renewable technology. Costa Rica is on its way to becoming the first developing nation to have 100 percent renewable electricity. Costa Rica’s location supports the collection of sun rays for electricity and their hydro and wind energy sources are growing.

Afghanistan and Albania are also capitalizing on their geographic capabilities to build a renewable energy market. Albania’s government is encouraging renewable energy growth with a law that requires 38 percent renewable energy sources by 2020. The race to renewable energy is promoting the growth of solar energy and motivating countries around the world to focus on growing the solar energy market.

Investors and organizations around the world recognize the connection between electricity and poverty and focus on installing energy solutions in off-grid locations. As more parts of the world gain access to electricity, more individuals are able to contribute to the globally connected economy. In rural areas without electrical wiring, a simple light in the evening could lead to higher efficiency in the morning and provides the potential to start an in-home business. As the market for renewable energy sources grows, so do the initiatives to bring energy to rural communities and reduce poverty.

Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

Shell and GravityLight Illuminate Off-Grid Regions in KenyaWhile access to electricity does not yet span the globe, the force of gravity is universal. The GravityLight Foundation has taken advantage of Newtonian physics to create a cost-effective light source that runs on gravity. Simply by lifting a weight and letting it descend, GravityLight can provide light and transform impoverished homes.

In 2015, GravityLight’s inventive engineering earned it the Shell Springboard Award, a grant of nearly $200,000 used to fund innovative businesses with low carbon footprints. Together, Shell and the GravityLight Foundation have successfully put GravityLights into production and introduced them to 50 communities in Kenya.

Kenya, which has one of the largest economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, has expended considerable effort to create an impressive power sector. In just four years, Kenya has increased the amount of households with access to electricity from 25 percent to 46 percent. Kenyan companies such as KenGen are working to utilize renewable energy sources, and geothermal energy looks promising.

A capacity of approximately 2,295 MW is available on Kenya’s power grid. However, off the grid, in remote areas of the country, only 11.5 MW are currently available. The Shell and GravityLight partnership intends to provide electric light to those off-grid regions in Kenya.

Electricity is crucial to improving the lives of the world’s poor. Access to light alone improves education and the economy by allowing people to study and work after daylight hours. However, the resources required to produce light can be extremely expensive, especially for those living in poverty. The world’s poor spend an estimated 30 percent of their income on kerosene needed to burn in lamps. GravityLight eliminates the need for kerosene to produce light, which is not only cheaper but also safer. Kerosene fumes are known carcinogens that are toxic for both humans and the environment.

Because the GravityLight Foundation uses local people and businesses to organize the sale of its product, marketing for GravityLight supplies Kenyans with jobs. By providing employment, GravityLight is bringing bright futures as well as bright homes to off-grid regions in Kenya.

Shell and GravityLight are not the only groups seeking to improve energy accessibility in order to aid impoverished populations in Africa. In 2015, the same year GravityLight won the Springboard grant, the U.S. government passed the Electrify Africa Act. The act aims to provide 60 million households and businesses throughout Africa with electricity.

Around the globe, 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity. If GravityLight’s debut in Kenya is successful, the foundation plans to continue spreading light throughout the world.

Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

High-Tech Solution to PovertyElectric-powered food: it sounds too good to be true. And for now, it probably is. But, according to Business Insider, Finnish scientists with the Food From Electricity project earlier this year synthesized a nutrient-rich protein using only water, electricity, carbon dioxide and microbes. The high-tech solution to poverty is reportedly nutritious enough to serve as a meal, being 50 percent (or more) protein and 25 percent carbohydrates. It is a promising step, but the process must be much more efficient before it can be adopted on a grand scale.

This research is the result of a collaboration between the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). VTT scientist Juha-Pekka Pitkänen has affirmed that, in practice, “all the raw materials are available from the air. In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine.” As this method does not require a location with the appropriate temperatures or soil type for agriculture, desert conditions will have no effect on its viability.

Business Insider theorizes two possible ways the technology might be used: to provide food for starving people in areas inhospitable to traditional agriculture and to reduce the demand for food livestock and the crops necessary to sustain it.

The second manner of use would bring down global emissions of greenhouse gases, a large portion of which the livestock industry is directly responsible for. Studies show that poorer countries are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, not least because they lack the financial means to combat those effects. Poorer nations are disproportionately in low-lying areas vulnerable to sea level rises. The nation of Kiribati, spread out over many island reefs and atolls in the Pacific, is a good example of a place already wrestling with less fertile soil and frequent flooding.

As a high-tech solution to poverty, food from electricity has a long way to go. LUT reports that producing one gram of protein in this manner currently takes about two weeks. As researchers model and adjust the process to allow the microbes to grow better, the hope is that the total time required will be reduced. At the same time, researchers want to produce larger quantities of the protein so as to pilot a commercialization effort and eventually develop the process into a compact product for mass production and distribution.

Aside from addressing general poverty, food from electricity has the rare potential to address climate change from both sides of the equation, tackling it at its source while mitigating its impoverishing effects. It will be interesting to see how this technology develops in the future.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Google

Bringing Power Back to Puerto RicoTowards the end of this past summer, a series of hurricanes swept across the Caribbean and Southeastern U.S., damaging communities in Houston, Miami and – in particular – Puerto Rico.

Not only was Hurricane Irma also followed by Hurricane Maria, another devastating storm, but the disaster response from the White House has been rather slow to provide relief, during a time when over one million people are struggling with – or even entirely incapable of – accessing electricity. Needless to say, bringing power back to Puerto Rico is no small task. However, Puerto Rico may have found an unlikely ally: Elon Musk’s Tesla Corporation.

Tesla is primarily famous for its manufacturing of electric cars and spaceship equipment (through its sister company, SpaceX). However, the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, has recently stated on Twitter that there may be a possibility of Tesla bringing power back to Puerto Rico. “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too,” wrote Musk on the social media site.

But are Musk’s goals realistic, or even possible at all? According to National Geographic, a solar panel-based subsidiary of Tesla – SolarCity – managed to single-handedly switch a small island in the American Samoa from diesel fuel to solar power. The island, known as Ta’u, not only managed to switch over completely to an extremely eco-friendly energy source, but did so in the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane – and the solar panels in place on the island have been specially built to deal with such powerful winds and flooding.

Of course, Puerto Rico’s population of three million is far more than Ta’u’s modest population of less than 600, and therefore rebuilding the Puerto Rican infrastructure is a far greater task to undertake. Furthermore, the U.S. government has had a dubious past with intervening in Puerto Rican affairs, including early testing of birth control pills on women. Musk has, however, pointed out that any efforts made in solar power installation in Puerto Rico “must truly be led by the Puerto Rican people.”

After weeks of recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, however, Musk’s comments about not only bringing power back to Puerto Rico, but reinforcing it both ecologically and structurally to withstand future storms, are ideas welcomed by many. Nevertheless, the plan is still in its embryonic stages and there is much more discussion that must take place before Tesla can spring into action.

Brad Tait

Photo: Flickr

USAID's Power Africa InitiativeWithin the entire continent of Africa, 57 percent of people have no access to electricity. In places like South Sudan, that percentage skyrockets to 97 percent. Power Africa, an initiative started by the USAID, is working to change this.

Power Africa has the goal of adding over 30,000 megawatts of clean energy capacity to African homes and businesses. These goals are achieved through partnerships with American private businesses. Power Africa works to facilitate private sector transactions and cultivate optimal investment climates. These partnerships help to further African development while saving U.S. taxpayer dollars and creating jobs here at home.

More specifically, as Power Africa notes in its annual report, “Applying U.S. Government resources in support of U.S. business growth in Africa, Power Africa has a hand in developing multi-million and billion dollar projects that are producing returns for U.S. investors and supporting job growth at home.”

So, far Power Africa has added 7,200 megawatts of energy. This means that 53 million people have access to electricity today who did not have access prior to the launch of the initiative. By 2020, that number is expected to more than double.

The work Power Africa is doing is vital. Access to electricity can be viewed as a stepping stone to lasting development. With electricity, people can run more efficient businesses, provide better health care and improve education for citizens. And the simple act of providing a community with electricity can be hugely empowering.

This is especially apparent in the story of Regina Tembo, a Zambian woman who is the manager of her local micro-grid. Members of Tembo’s community can purchase electricity from her. Tembo makes sure that her neighbors and local businesses are provided energy tailored to their needs. Not only is she providing her fellow Zambians with much-needed electricity, but Tembo also feels empowered. “Being a Standard Microgrid Manager has increased my status in the community and enabled me to share knowledge with people in different countries,” she told USAID.

Of course, Power Africa still has a long way to go. In the near future, Power Africa hopes to provide larger systems, like micro-grids and solar home systems. These systems allow people to power larger appliances.

USAID’s Power Africa goals may be ambitious, but they’re achievable. Building a brighter Africa will help to reduce poverty, increase development and create jobs here at home.

Adesuwa Agbonile

Photo: Flickr

End World Hunger
Researchers in Finland have introduced their hopeful and ongoing work to improve life by creating food out of electricity — a development that could end world hunger. Researchers created a protein out of an electric shock and a few ingredients. The results of this experiment may be successful in helping to feed a large amount of people in regions where food sources are threatened by climate change or other conflicts. It could also perhaps introduce a food technology that could change the food and agricultural industry.

The protein was created as a Food from Electricity Project with the Lappeenranta University of Technology and the Technical Research Centre of Finland. The protein is a single-cell protein large enough for a dinner meal. The protein includes electricity, water, carbon dioxide and microbes. The ingredients go through a system powered by renewable energy and then researchers enhance an electric shock into the ingredients, creating a result of 50 percent protein, 25 percent carbohydrates and 25 percent fat and nucleic acid. This concept has introduced a new, cheaper way to address and end world hunger.

About 800 million people suffer from malnourishment and about 20 million people are undergoing famine in their countries. So far, the concept has allowed the creation of one gram of protein in about two weeks with the nutrition of basic food. Researchers predict that there will be a full effect of the electric protein in about a decade, which allows for a wider use of the protein. For now, researchers are introducing this hopeful initiative, and will continue developing the concept.

Electric food has life-changing potential. This process could not only provide a protein to resolve the hunger crisis, but it could also develop nutritious food that furthers solving and ending world hunger.

Brandi Gomez

Photo: Flickr


A 2016 study done by World Energy Outlook found that 16 percent of the world’s population (1.2 billion people) is still living without electricity. Communities primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and rural Asia lack modern electrical resources and rely on dangerous and physically harmful resources. Relying on biomass for the majority of their energy, health risks such as poor ventilation and open fires are routine in many households. Providing solutions for energy-impoverished areas requires a change in mindset, infrastructure, economic strategy and inventiveness. Here are 10 of the best:

  1. Make electricity a human right
    Electricity may seem less important than other issues when addressing global poverty. While basic human needs such as food, water and shelter should obviously be of top priority, one solution for energy-impoverished areas is making electricity a human right. Having electricity helps highly-impoverished regions improve hospitals, school systems, industrial work, and other critical aspects of modern society.
  2. Focus on public health
    A key component of human rights is individual health. Economic and technological factors often come second to issues like health care. However, having electricity can greatly improve the general health of a community. The United Nations estimates that dirty household air is responsible for more than 40 million premature deaths. Access to resources such as air purifiers could all but eliminate issues like this and greatly incentivize establishment of power.
  3. Changing attitudes of world leaders
    To make electricity a basic human right, world leaders must become cognizant of its benefits and utter necessity. Often, obstacles such as cost, providing infrastructure and general planning can be seen as insurmountable when establishing power in areas without electricity. However, programs like one in Uganda that provides pre-paid power and can be topped up with a mobile phone may persuade other world leaders to follow suit.
  4. Create economic incentives for power companies
    Many entrepreneurs and startup companies have found great success in developing cost-efficient and accessible solutions for energy-impoverished areas. Solar batteries, LED lights and other inventive energy sources have been met with great economic success and growing market shares. Developing technology that works can be a great economic incentive for global power companies.
  5. Increase global funding
    The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have diverted funding to establish electricity in power-impoverished areas because as organizations, they recognize the long-term economic benefits of so doing. Many countries lack the basic resources to begin projects of this caliber. Organizations that emphasize human rights and economic aid can provide these countries with the initial resources that will eventually create economic success stories.
  6. Think local
    Small, local and even personal electronic grids are the recipients of recent research and funding. Why? The difficulty of spreading existing power to distant, rural communities can prevent areas from ever gaining electricity. Rather than trying to connect these areas to the main grid, many companies have suggested providing these regions with small, localized, off-the-grid solutions.
  7. Reduce energy theft
    Along with influencing government and international-level organizations, convincing people that electricity is a worthy investment can be a challenge. Many communities have found methods of stealing electricity from the main grid, which makes leaders wary of investing in further power. In New Delhi, a program was instituted for local women to discuss the benefits of wide-scale electricity with their neighbors. Social programs such as this are extremely effective in changing attitudes.
  8. Invest in solar power
    When discussing solutions for energy-impoverished areas, climate change is a key factor to consider. Many world leaders and emerging technology companies have considered the benefits of solar energy. While it can be expensive and difficult to implement, the long-term benefits of sustainable energy are important to consider when compared to short-term, non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels.
  9. Explore emerging natural energy sources
    Although solar power is an extremely clean and renewable source of energy, it can be unreliable for large-scale energy production. To create solutions for energy-impoverished areas, various regions in Africa have begun to implement other natural energy resources such as geothermal, natural and hydropower. These are just as environmentally-friendly as solar energy but more consistent and easy to maintain.
  10. Think small
    With international energy access being the long-term goal, there are still many new tech firms selling simple gadgets that greatly improve the way of life for communities lacking large-scale power. Voto, for example, creates personal solar-powered outlets that can charge devices like phones and batteries. While it may seem small, conveniences such as this can make the most basic tasks more simple.

Though these changes may require time, small steps towards improvement can have a great impact on individual households and villages living without power. In making small, tangible efforts towards providing electricity to these areas, global mindsets and policies will gradually be affected.

 

Julia Morrison

Photo: Flickr

U.S. Commitment to Increasing Access to Electricity in Africa
Over one billion people around the world still have no access to electricity. Statistics show a direct correlation between low energy use and low Gross Domestic Product. Through developing energy grids in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, these regions would see phenomenal economic, educational and humanitarian benefits.

What parts of the world are in most need for energy grid development projects? The most significant deprivation is in sub-Saharan Africa, where at least 50 percent of the population in the majority of countries are without electricity access. A total of 94.7 percent of the populations Liberia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Sierra Leone and Malawi do not have electricity.

In Asia, 622 million out of the population of 3.6 billion still have no access to electricity. Half of those individuals live in India, where 304 million or 24 percent of the population lacks access to electricity. Smaller countries are affected as well. Seventy-three percent of North Koreans, 32 percent of Pakistanis, 40 percent of Bangladeshis, 69 percent of Burmese people and 67 percent of Cambodians have no access to electricity.

The Middle East is an outlier due to its vast wealth of petroleum resources. Out of the one-tenth of the population that has no access to electricity, 80 percent live in Yemen, which is currently experiencing a deadly civil war.

In 2015 the United States Congress passed the Electrify Africa Act, which aims to address energy poverty throughout the continent by prioritizing energy projects within our development finance agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. This monumental new law will streamline the approval process for the financing of energy-related projects in Africa, potentially lifting millions out of energy poverty.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr


In early February, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a plan to apply the use of solar power to the 7,000 railway stations located across the country. The plan will be implemented as a part of the country’s federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Solar power in India is now the main focus of industry and infrastructure in the country.

During his speech regarding the budget, Jaitley informed the public that 300 stations across the country had begun to use solar energy. Indian Railways, the state-run organization that operates India’s trains, has been working for several years to set up a successful solar energy program. In 2016, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) partnered with Indian Railways to generate five gigawatts of solar power capacity into the system. To put this into perspective, global solar installations are expected to reach close to 70 gigawatts in 2017.

Now, with the joint commitment of the government, Indian Railways will be able to cohesively move forward in its mission to normalize solar power in India. By the end of 2017, India hopes to harbor at least nine gigawatts of solar energy. The plan to implement solar panels and production into rail stations is a part of a larger goal to increase solar capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2022.

The Union Railway Master in Indian, Suresh Prabhu, has also publicly discussed the intentions of the proposal. The union government is funding research that looks into producing solar power in India from waste materials. In doing so, the cost of electricity and other expenditures will be reduced, leaving extra funding for expanding infrastructure and railway facilities.

In order to finance the technology it will take to harness solar energy for the railways, India has collected close to $8 billion in coal taxes. Approximately $1.8 billion of the funds will go into solar energy for Indian Railways. The money from this tax is focused on producing cleaner energy, forest conservation and sanitation efforts.


Solar power in India is just one facet of the nation’s larger campaign to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The nation has also produced the first airport in the world that runs solely on solar power. As Indian corporations and its government work together in the fight to create a greener world, solar power remains at the forefront of their mission.

Solar power holds endless untapped potential. The sun produces approximately 170,000 terawatts of energy per day. This is about 2,850 times the energy currently required by the Earth’s population.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr