Energy access: new solutions to an old challenge

Today marks World Humanitarian Day, a day to remind ourselves of the difficulty faced by people around the world. But it’s also a day to celebrate the efforts of people trying to alleviate that suffering. Access to reliable energy is a key enabler in allowing people to overcome many of these difficulties, such as accessing clean water, healthcare, security, transport and communication.

I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, a place like many others in the world, with an electricity grid where supply doesn’t quite reach demand. So there was a compromise that meant you had power… but only for a few hours at a time. I have distinct childhood memories of music cutting out midway through birthday parties due to power loss, or missing key sporting moments, like football World Cup finals (Nigerians love their football) – and hearing the frustrated yells of various family members left in darkness while someone ran quickly but carefully to get the diesel generator switched on. And don’t even get me started on attempting not to singe my hair while reading the latest Harry Potter book by candlelight late at night!

I can make light of my particular problems with power because I was lucky enough to have access to enough power to give me relatively tolerable problems. But many other people in Lagos and around the world are not so lucky…

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