How many people are living without electricity worldwide?
people are living without
The presence of just a single light bulb in a household can make an enormous difference, and today there are still more than a billion people living without electricity.
Most of them reside in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. According to Hanne Cecilie Geirbo, a research fellow at the University of Oslo's Department of Informatics, the reason isn't solely economic but also cultural.
In an effort to understand the difficulty of delivering electricity to those in need, Geirbo has been studying a pilot project in Bangladesh for four years. She says that what must be kept in mind is that innovation requires "substantial resources and good planning, not to mention an understanding of the local culture." For example, a lot of resources go into developing technology for renewable energy but not enough are dedicated to ensuring that equipment will be easily maintained or repaired.
In Bangladesh, Geirbo found that a man who had been hired to clean the photovoltaic cells on a solar panel had been avoiding his responsibilities because the job was beneath his cultural standing in the community. As a shop keeper, it would look bad for him to be seen doing the manual labor. That's just one of many unanticipated differences that a potential energy company would have to keep in mind. Additionally, seasonal work is very common in the region, which means a company would need to adjust to bills being paid in large sums around the time of big festivals, instead of on a monthly basis.
One of the biggest opportunities for expanding access to electricity in rural areas may prove to be through telecommunications companies. If the Tel-Coms are willing to install mobile phone masts to increase signal coverage, those masts could be used to supply power to areas that don't appear to be a great investment at first.