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  • Living Without Energy

mom and children at water collection site, access to energy

According to the 2017 Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Global Tracking Framework, nearly 1.1 billion people (roughly the population of China) in developing Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and in rural areas do not have access to electricity – the grid simply isn’t there.

Without electricity, almost everything you do is dictated by the daily cycle of the sun. You have to perform all economic activity (manually tend your farm and animals, etc.), fetch water for irrigation and personal use, run errands and so on before the sun sets. Your children have to complete their study and homework before it gets dark.

Your family has no choice but to use collected firewood, crop waste or animal dung to cook meals over open fires, in the process inhaling particulates and toxins that have a severe impact on human health. And once the darkness descends, life comes to a near standstill, with people retreating to their homes because they cannot see what’s lurking outdoors that might pose a danger.

Schneider Electric is helping to change this harsh reality for the better. As a global specialist in energy management, we view access to energy as a basic human right.

"In communities with nil or low electrification, access to energy improves health, enhances educational opportunities, creates economic opportunities, improves access to water and promotes environmental sustainability. In short, it improves the standard of living," said Gilles Vermot Desroches, Schneider Electric’s Senior-Vice President, Sustainability.

To help alleviate energy poverty worldwide, the company launched its Access to Energy Program in 2009. The program has three core areas: 

  • Offer: design and deliver electrical distribution solutions for disadvantaged people 
  • Investment: manage an investment fund for business development in the electricity sector 
  • Training: train young adults looking to enter the electricity sector
One country that has benefited from the program is Kenya, where less than a quarter of the population has access to electricity. Under a project spearheaded by the country’s Rural Electrification Authority in late 2014, Schneider Electric has to date implemented off-grid solar systems at 128 primary schools located in rural areas throughout Kenya. Manufactured locally by Schneider Electric, the systems provide 24x7 electricity to four classrooms and one staff room in each school, powering 34 lights, 30 desktop computers, 31 twin sockets and one printer.

"The solar systems we have put in place at the schools have certainly improved school life for the students, teaching staff and school administrators. The teaching environment and learning experience will soon be boosted by Web access and the roll-out of a government program to distribute PCs and laptops to schools," said Kamal Gupta, head of Schneider Electric’s renewable energy/solar business in Kenya.

Going forward, Schneider Electric and the Rural Electrification Authority will be rolling out the school electrification program to more rural primary schools in Kenya. Furthermore, the program will likely be extended to secondary schools in remote areas in the future.

Learn more about the training, offer and investments of Schneider Electric's Access to Energy program in a nutshell

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