About 1.1 billion people in the world still lack access to electricity, slowing community development and leading to a negative impact on health, nutrition and education. As much as 85 percent of the population lives in rural areas, and only a third of these areas will have access to electricity in the next few years. In Sub Saharan Africa, the only source of energy available to 70 percent of the population that lacks electricity is kerosene, a highly toxic and expensive fuel.
In this context, the social enterprise GiveWatts intends to bring clean and safe energy to the inhabitants of developing countries, distributing solar lamps to schools and other institutions. The project is implemented through an instalment plan, in order to make the communities self-reliant. Thanks to this system, GiveWatts has distributed nearly 20,000 lamps in 800 villages in Kenya, bringing solar light to about 80,000 people.
Enel, which is globally active in finding innovative energy access solutions, is working with GiveWatts on the Powering Education project. The initiative, which was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2013, focuses on two key issues for the sustainable growth of developing countries: electrification of rural areas and education. The first phase of the project ended last year, with the distribution of 300 solar lamps to 12 schools in the region of Amboseli, in Kenya — certifying for the first time, via a rigorous study, how lighting from renewable sources affects scholastic performance, and the benefits extended to the students' families as well.
The project is now entering its second phase, which will consist in studying the impact of 800 solar-powered lamps in 60 schools in the county of Kisii, in southwestern Kenya. Possible synergies between Powering Education and other projects promoting access to energy are also under consideration, such as the development of mini-grids in Kisii county.
The partnership with Gigawatts is part of Enabling Electricity, an Enel programme that promotes access to electricity in both rural and suburban areas around the world and which has benefited 2.5 million people to date. Enel intends to double that number in the coming years to consolidate its international leadership in the sector.