UN helping South African communities to access sustainable energy

09 Dec 2011

Durban -  UN agencies and the South African government unveiled this week a pilot project that provides communities outside of Durban with access to clean energy.

The project will deliver clean cooking, lighting systems and solar-heated water for clinics and schools in the district of Ilembe, situated an hour north of the city.

In recent years, South Africa has made considerable progress on energy access.    The launch of a mass electrification programme in 1994 doubled electricity access; from 4.5 million households (50.9 percent) in 1994 to 9.4 million households (74.9 percent) in 2010. 

“Advancing integrated energy solutions eases poverty and advances the country’s development goals without compromising the environment,” said Jacob Zuma, the South African President during the unveiling.

“I think everyone here knows what a difference bringing energy to our homes means. In this case it means homes having hot water, homes having clean cooking stoves, which is so important for the health of our families. These basic things matter,” added Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator.

The UN Secretary General launched, this September, a “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, bringing together governments, the UN, the private sector and civil society to take action and make lack of access to energy history.

Today, nearly a third of the world’s population – 2.7 billion people - lack access to modern energy, and at least 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity and 45 percent of them (585 million) are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Secretary-General’s initiative sets out three broad goals for 2030: achieving universal access to modern energy services; improving energy efficiency by 40 per cent; and producing 30 per cent of the world’s energy from renewable resources.