Power Equals Opportunity
Where there is no electricity, there is no light, no access to the tools that power business and only limited access to modern healthcare or education. Providing reliable electricity is the first step toward helping a community lift itself from poverty. So crucial is this single factor that The Rockefeller Foundation has made ending energy poverty a priority around the world.
A steady power source transforms every facet of human life. Families can illuminate their homes. They can communicate with the outside world. Children can study at night. Simple appliances can save hours of drudgery on household chores. Lit streets are safer and more conducive to commerce.
At the same time, access to power can boost the irrigation, crop yields and productivity of local agriculture. Farmers can protect crop values with cold storage or increase their returns with post-harvest processing. Small businesses of all kinds can expand and connect with outside markets.
people live without access to any electricity worldwide
of people in Sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity today
people will still lack access in 2030 at the current rate of progress
Electricity, in other words, is the foundation on which modern communities and businesses run and thrive. And yet, more than 840 million people still live without access to power, and hundreds of millions more suffer frequent outages. Even with the current rate of growth in power distribution, 650 million people will still lack access to electricity by 2030 – the vast majority of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Governments and philanthropic groups increasingly recognize the ties between poverty and a lack of access to energy. Still, the collective efforts of the international community remain too slow and incremental. Bringing reliable, affordable power to those now in need of it is the single best way to fight poverty across the world.
End Poverty? Start with Ending Energy Poverty
Since the dawn of the electric age, a great divide has widened between those with access to power and those without. In 1930s America, just 10% of rural households in the U.S. were electrified. The federal government helped fund a massive, decades-long effort to bring electricity to the countryside that American cities enjoyed. That pathway to prosperity has become even more vital in the age of globalized commerce and the internet. Societies locked out of the energy economy are simply unable to rise out of poverty. In much of the world, regions or countries suffering from extreme poverty almost always suffer as well from a lack of steady power. We cannot remedy the one without pushing as well to remedy the other.
At The Rockefeller Foundation we aim to dramatically accelerate the pace of electrification by leveraging the full potential that decentralized renewable energy offers to the world’s poorest populations.
Our Work and Impact
We are working to connect the unconnected, grow energy consumption and build the resilient, low-carbon energy system of the future – because power builds livelihoods, grows income, improves health outcomes, and empowers communities.
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