33M people in Africa, Asia to access low-cost energy by 2016

February 17, 2012 9:14 am 

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 17 — Up to 33 million people in Africa and Asia living in poverty will have access to low-cost energy by 2016 through a global initiative supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the UN agency announced here Thursday.

On Thursday, a commitment was made by solar power provider ToughStuff to the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global initiatives that works to advance the efforts of the private sector to fight poverty and supported by international organizations including UNDP, said a BCtA press release issued here.

With its headquarters in Mauritius and offices in east, west and southern Africa, ToughStuff looks to expand access to low-cost, durable solar panels and solar battery packs to low-income communities in 10 African countries, including Burundi, Cote d' Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and four southeast Asian countries including Bangladesh and India in the next four years.

"Companies like ToughStuff invest in communities by providing cleaner, healthier energy options through core business operations, " Susan Chaffin, program manager for the BCtA, said in a press release. "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."

According to the solar power provider, they expect to assist consumers who in the past depended on kerosene or biomass fuel to save a combined total of 520 million U.S. dollars on lower energy costs, while also reducing carbon emissions by up to 1.2 million tons by 2016.

A recent UNDP report warned that by 2030, household air pollution from the use of biomass fuel is expected to cause more than 1.5 million deaths a year.

With nearly half the world's population lacking reliable access to modern energy services, more than 20 percent of the global population, or 1.4 billion people, remain without access to electricity.

The majority of people live in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia depend on wood, charcoal, animal waste or biofuels such as kerosene for energy.

ToughStuff aims to lessen the impact of lack of energy access for millions of people through its solar-powered products for low- income communities. Since its launch in 2009, ToughStuff's products have reached more than one million people and helped its customers save over 5.85 million U.S. dollars in energy costs.

This initiative will help boost the goals of the UN's Sustainable Energy for All Initiative which looks to increase access to energy while protecting ecosystems. (PNA/Xinhua) DCT/RSV/mmg

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