Current levels of energy services fail to meet the needs of the poor. Some 2 billion people worldwide rely on traditional biomass fuels for cooking, while 300 million households worldwide or as much as 1.6 billion people do not have access to electricity, a situation which entrenches poverty, constrains the delivery of social services, limits opportunities for women and girls, and erodes environmental sustainability at the local, national and global levels.
50 % or more of the world’s population are living in cities today and the number of urban inhabitants is rapidly increasing. 70% of the global GHG emissions are generated in cities. More than 2/3 of the world’s energy is consumed in cities Most of the future population grow is going to take place or will be absorbed by cities.
Rapid urbanization and population growth in urban areas remain the most important challenges in the South. These cities have the highest growth rates for formal and informal building stocks in the world. Subsequently, the accumulated growth of the built environment will lead to future building stocks that determine the competitiveness and development chances of these cities in the future. Energy efficiency, renewable energy technology and requirements set by a changing climate are important determining factors in this sense.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently appealed to all member states of the United Nations to allow all people until 2030 the access to sustainable energy and to reduce energy intensity by 40%. Much greater access to energy services will be essential to achieve all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The costing and delivery of these services must be linked to national development strategies, Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS) and MDG campaigns to enable countries meet the MDGs.
Energy has long been recognized to be essential in meeting basic human needs, in stimulating and supporting economic growth and in enhancing the quality of life in human settlements. Increased energy use means increased ability to produce the necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing, communications and health care. It is agreed that developing countries must raise their outputs to a level which will provide an acceptable standard of living for everybody in the world.
The energy sector’s links with other sectors are crucial for the economic growth that is crucial to sustained poverty reduction. Widening access to energy services for the poor is a means of supporting overall development through income and employment generation, as well as for social benefits. Access to energy services is therefore an essential means to support overall development, rather than an end to itself. In part due to poor infrastructure and prohibitively high up-front costs, the poor often face much higher energy costs than the non-poor. This is compounded by the limited access to appropriate financing schemes that can allow the poor to overcome the high up-front costs of cleaner energy devices and appliances.
Other important energy challenges facing the poor include low incomes that are not sufficient for the procurement of energy services to meet basic needs such as sufficient energy to cook food, provide affordable transport, power pumps for potable water, sterilize medical equipment and provide space heating.
The overall goal of the proposed energy scale-up initiative is to facilitate access to modern energy services for the urban poor while reducing the incidents of harmful indoor air pollution within informal settlements in sub-Saharan Africa through policy change, development of regulatory instruments and pilot demonstrations.