Around 1.4 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. Benefits of universal access to modern energy services can be transformational, providing “lighting for schools, functioning health clinics, pumps for water and sanitation, cleaner indoor air, faster food-processing and more income-generating opportunities’’ (UNDP, 2011).
In the recently ratified UN Sustainable Development Goals, Goal 7 has declared that the global community will ensure that affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy is available for all by 2030. However, for many of the worlds rural population connection to the national grid isn’t feasible and the demand for off-grid energy solutions is higher than ever.
Over the last few year Engineers Without Borders UK , partnered with Energy 4 Impact in Kenya, have worked in rural communities to tackle this challenge. Most initiatives are targeting large infrastructure projects. This however does little to expand energy beyond the grid. 60% of new electricity provision required for universal access is the natural domain of small businesses, offering small-scale, decentralised, renewable energy solutions to off-grid areas.
Together we have been working to kick start growth in the renewable energy market in East Africa. Our volunteers have been working as technical advisors. They have contributed engineering knowledge and understanding, alongside business advice.
As a result, local companies have improved their products and business models so they can grow, and provide more customers with renewable energy. These include companies selling solar home systems; mobile solar kiosks and power provision in refugee camps.
By enhancing the local capability of organisations to supply off-grid renewable energy Engineers Without Borders UK is sustainably working to tackle engineering skills shortages and removing barriers to engineering.
In 2015, Engineers Without Borders volunteers worked a staggering 32,054 hours on international projects, such as this one. With your help we are determined to help everyone everywhere have access to electricity.