IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 20

guest editorial

Hugh Rudnick

access to electricity
making the expansion worldwide

I

In July 2013, u.S. PreSIdent
Barack Obama pledged uS$7 billion
to help provide access to electricity to
Sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds
of the population lacks access to electricity, including more than 85% of
those living in rural areas. When making this pledge, he said, "Access to
electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age. It's the light that children study by, the energy that allows
an idea to be transformed into a real
business. It's the lifeline for families to
meet their most basic needs, and it's the
connection that's needed to plug Africa
into the grid of the global economy."
this commitment illustrates an
awareness in the developed world of
electricity's role in providing a fundamental path for economic and social
progress and a way out of poverty in
continents like Africa and Asia. In
effect, as the World Bank indicates,
about 1.2 billion people do not have
access to electricity worldwide. the
Bank indicates that, although 1.8 billion people obtained connections to
electricity between 1990 and 2010,
the rate was only slightly ahead of the
population growth of 1.6 billion over
the same period. electricity expansion
growth will have to double to meet a
100% access target by 2030, and getting there would require an additional
uS$45 billion invested in access every
year, five times the current annual level.

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MPE.2014.2315925
Date of publication: 17 June 2014

20

ieee power & energy magazine

With these challenges in mind and
with 2014 marking the start of the united
nations decade of Sustainable energy
for All (Se4All), an international effort
to bring sustainable energy to everyone
on the planet, we invited a selected group
of world experts to share their diverse
views on ways to proceed to expand electricity access worldwide. they all agree
that the technical community, including
Ieee, can make a significant contribution to that expansion.
First, we invited a recognized specialist in the field, Adriaan Zomers, author of
the book Rural Electrification: Utilities'
Chafe or Challenge? (twente university Press, http://doc.utwente.nl/38683/1/
t0000008.pdf), to provide an overview
of the context, challenges, and obstacles
of access to electricity. He emphasizes
that there is a rather large difference
between the challenges regarding electrification in countries with a mature
electric infrastructure and in developing economies. In most countries with a
mature electric infrastructure, access to
electricity is taken for granted, although
utilities are grappling with the challenge to connect a variety of distributed
generators to existing distribution grids
while maintaining security of supply.
the efforts of power utilities and other
stakeholders in countries in the developing world are directed toward providing
access to reliable electricity services in
non- or poorly electrified areas and to
cope with the affordability problems of
poor communities. the potential benefits
of electrification, apart from the benefits
related to the improvement of the living

conditions, are socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and environmental. He calls attention to the fact that access to electricity
in these countries is an essential, but not
sufficient, condition for socioeconomic
development: rural markets and adequate
credit facilities are just as important for
rural industrialization.
the second article, by Hugh rudnick,
Joseph Mutale, debabrata Chattopadhyay,
and robert Saint, shares with us the electrification experiences of three distinctly
different countries, the united States,
India, and Zambia, which illustrates that
different approaches that have been or are
being taken to overcome the challenge.
the rural electrification experiences of the
three countries, despite their major differences, have some elements in common.
rural electrification will not take place
on its own unless there is a clear direction or support by the government, either
in creating the institutional framework for
it to take place or in supplying the necessary basic funding or subsidies for it to
develop. Having said that, it is important
that this takes place without political interference but based on clear socioeconomic
objectives. they indicate that rural electrification is not just one of supplying rural
households with basic electricity but also
looking at the economic impact that electricity may have on poor communities.
A businesslike approach in electrification is presented in the contribution
by Marcus Wiemann and ling ng, who
argue that access to energy lies in business innovation. In the developing world,
like everywhere else, there is not a onesize-fits-all energy solution. nonetheless,
july/august 2014


http://doc.utwente.nl/38683/1/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover3
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