Energy is critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals

Kandeh K. Yumkella – Eco-Business – Tuesday, 10 September 2013 (originally published 06 Sept)

Child studing in low light
Globally, 1.3 billion people still lack access to electricity, and without access to light, children cannot study and exercise their right to a decent education. Image: Business Fights Poverty

In the lead up to the UN General Assembly, the Skoll World Forum partnered with Johnson & Johnson, the United Nations Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to produce an online debate focused on the last 850 days before the MDGs expire in 2015. We asked some of the world’s leading experts what is one thing we must do differently or better to achieve MDGs 4, 5 and/or 6—all focused on improving public health—by the deadline? View the full series here.

Millions of people in our world today live in abject poverty, in part because they lack access to modern energy services. In Africa alone, 80 per cent of the continent’s population continues to use traditional biomass for cooking and heating purposes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 31 per cent have access to electricity.

As a young man growing up in Sierra Leone, I studied by candlelight. Today, 31 years after my undergraduate education at Njala University College, the problem persists not only in Sierra Leone but around the world.  Indeed, without access to energy, a country or community cannot achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Sustainable energy is essential to sustainable development . . .

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