US White House launches push to boost off-grid clean energy access

Governments and businesses have joined with the US White House in making commitments that will provide off-grid clean energy products and services to more than 500 million people by 2020.

The commitments made at the high-level meeting on 22 October will also prevent the equivalent of over 350 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, including significant cuts in black carbon emissions – the equivalent of taking nearly 80 million cars off the road.

Organized by officials of the Obama Administration, the “White House Forum on Catalyzing Markets for Off-Grid Clean Energy Access” sought to support low-carbon, simple, stand-alone and scalable products that are easily accessible and energy-efficient, including products such as solar lamps and LED lights.

The event built on President Barack Obama’s commitment in September 2015 to adopt the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Development Goal 7: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all”.

“We believe that electricity should be a basic social right for every citizen,” said Benin’s Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, presenting his “Light for All” programme, which aims to provide access to basic electricity for all families in Benin. Zinsou is a founding member of the West African Energy Leaders Group (W-AELG),created under the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative to bring together African political and business leaders to transform Africa’s energy landscape.

Speaking at the Forum, SEforALL’s Chief Operating Officer, Mohinder Gulati, said it “showcases the practical ways in which energy access can be accelerated through use of renewable and more energy-efficient technologies”.

Underscoring the importance of credible partnerships, Gulati said SEforALL was committed to working with the US Power Africa programme, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the European Union and others to facilitate action on the ground towards Sustainable Development Goal 7.

Commitments made at the White House Forum included the following:

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a new $75 million loan guarantee through Power Africa to scale up off-grid energy investments across sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) announced more than $20 million in loans to promote solar energy in 90,000 households in Kenya and Nigeria
  • The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is providing $46 million for off-grid electrification in Benin.
  • The Governments of Benin, Bangladesh, and Kenya are taking steps to increase access to off-grid energy efficient products, which will be powered by clean energy, and develop standards to ensure the quality of off-grid appliance
  • New funding totaling over $125 million to finance clean energy projects, such as the deployment of high efficiency solar equipment to reach millions of low-income customers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • Advancing the deployment of over 170 million new off-grid, energy-efficient, standalone and scalable products.

A full list of commitments made at the White house Forum is available here.

 

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