South African power utility Eskom says it is working with a range of global utilities on a plan to address prevailing high levels of energy poverty, which excludes one in five people from access to modern energy systems – about 40% of those indi- viduals live in sub-Saharan Africa.
In fact, the International Energy Agency estimates that 1.3-billion people lack electricity to light their homes or conduct business, while twice that number still rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook their food.
The plan to improve access is being driven by United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who has already declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Electricity for All.
Eskom CE Brian Dames, who is a member of the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, reports that work is advancing on a global plan to facilitate universal access to modern energy systems.
The panel also includes a number of other utilities from around the world, as well as government Ministers, bankers, industrialists, economists, researchers, financial professionals, engineers and representatives from a number of UN agencies.
As part of the plan, the panel aims to find ways of doubling, by 2030, the rate of energy efficiency, as well as the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
At the recent Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, in Brazil, Ban announced that more than 100 commitments had been received from countries and corporations to support the UN’s global sustain- able energy initiative.
Dames says Eskom is helping to bring a “developing-country perspective” to the global debate and is sharing its experiences in improving access through its electrification programmes.
Currently, about 80% of South Africans have been connected to the electricity network, which compares with about 33% in 1991. Last year, a further 155 213 homes were electrified, raising the number of total connections to more than 4.2-million since the inception of the programme.
Dames says the South African utility’s energy efficiency programme is also one of the largest globally, with nearly 3 000 MW of verified savings having already been achieved.
“We believe that cleaner energy is just one of the imperatives for South Africa and also for Africa. Security of supply and affordable supply of electricity is just as important,” Dames avers, while indicating that he is carrying that message to the UN network.