Energy Access in Doula
Caterpillar, the globally-recognized U.S. construction equipment company, is leading the fight against energy poverty in the Central African country of Cameroon. Priding itself on its commitment to sustainability and social change, Caterpillar has increased energy access in Doula, Cameroon’s largest city. The company plans to expand its reach by joining hands with Altaaqa Global.

Altaaqa Global is a rental dealer of Caterpillar products, and the company’s goal is to ensure that electricity is dependably supplied to vulnerable communities. Through its new customer development program, Altaaqa Global and Caterpillar plan to increase energy access by providing local employees with the technical knowledge needed to manage Doula’s natural gas power plant.

As Fahah Y. Zahid, the chairman of Altaaqa Global, explains, “We have always aimed to play an active role in spurring growth and progress not only by providing a reliable supply of electricity but also by transferring knowledge to locals. We hope that the Customer Development Program yields a globally competitive workforce that will drive the continuous growth of Cameroon.”

Plagued by a lack of energy access, Doula faces extreme poverty, which affects 13 percent of the city’s population, as well as a 30 percent unemployment rate. Caterpillar and Altaaqa Global’s work is thus crucially important because providing Doula citizens with electricity will lead to greater economic growth.

In May 2015, the Government of Cameroon announced that it wanted to achieve “economic emergence” by 2035. Thanks to Caterpillar and Altaaqa Global, the government’s target may be within reach.

While Caterpillar increases energy access in Doula with the help of Altaaqa Global, more people will use the newfound electricity to gain an education, start their own businesses or find jobs. As a result of these new opportunities, Doula’s residents can effectively contribute to Cameroon’s success and help the country become the economic powerhouse it has the potential to be.

Kristina Evans
Photo: Pixabay

4 million lives are lost each year to household air pollution. This means that annually, a population roughly the size of Los Angeles dies as a consequence of traditional cooking methods still practiced by poverty stricken families of the global south. In an attempt to raise awareness of the need for the adequate power grids necessary to ameliorate the toxic effects of indoor air pollution, policymakers are calling for increased funding towards universal energy access.

Researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria recently published a study showing that an annual investment of between 65 to 86 billion dollars a year for the next 17 years would allow for universal energy access. Why is universal energy access the solution to indoor air pollution? In order to reduce fatalities by up to 1.8 million by 2030, clean combusting cooking fuels and electric ovens must be made available –via greater energy investment – to poverty stricken areas.

Regarding universal energy access, IIASA researcher Dr. Shonali Pachauri remarked that, “The scale of investment required is small from a global perspective, though it will require additional financing for nations that are least likely to have access to sources of finances.”

Ingenious forecasting models generated from the study show that an investment of 750 to 1000 billion dollars over the next 20 years – or 3 to 4% of current energy investments – would facilitate universal energy access. Furthermore, through these investments, a policy of fuel subsidies, new stoves, and improved access to electricity would all serve to dramatically reduce the casualties of indoor air pollution.

By enacting a policy of universal energy access now, future generations of poverty stricken families can enjoy the safety of cooking without the carcinogenic side effects of indoor air pollution. Dr. Pachauri optimistically notes that achieving this goal will result in signicant health benefits.

Brian Turner
Source: Science Daily
Photo: Building A Smarter Planet