All of Sub-Saharan Africa, with its 961 million inhabitants, consumes the same amount of energy as the whole of New York City. This data speaks for itself: access to energy is the first barrier that must be removed to grant the possibility for development to a vast area of the world that still pays dearly for its lack of energy infrastructure.
The Enel partner zone of The Guardian narrates a story centered on the fight against the energy divide that takes place in Latin America, showing that access to electricity, with the virtuous effects it produces, is a result that is achieved effectively not only by means of infrastructures and investments, but also and one might say aboveall by promoting a sustainable development model that is centered on people and communities.
The Sustainable Energy for All programme (SE4ALL) that was launched in 2011 by the United Nations involves governments, companies and associations in the commitment to extend access to energy to all the Earth's inhabitants. Enel has been participating in the UN programme since 2014, and is the only utility company in the world that sits on the board with the Group's CEO Francesco Starace. According to the latest findings by SE4ALL, 1.1 billion people suffer the consequences of the energy divide: a huge amount that is nevertheless decreasing thanks to initiatives such as the one that Enel is carrying out through its Enabling Electricity global programme.
The story reported by The Guardian is one of the success cases included among the 28 projects that Enel is achieving through its Enabling Electricity programme. The article 'In six months we can make a grandmother into a solar engineer' describes the partnership between Enel and the Barefoot College, an Indian NGO that has been engaged for many years in training programmes for young grandmothers (aged between 35 and 50) who come from isolated and disadvantaged rural areas. Thanks to the 'Barefoot model', the women who participate in these courses learn how to assemble, manage and maintain solar PV plants that they subsequently install in their community of origin, enabling access to electricity.
The 39 solar engineers who have been trained up to now thanks to Enel's initiative come from nine Latin American countries and have crossed the Ocean to take part in a training course at the Barefoot College in India. The story of a number of them has also been narrated by a documentary-film calledBring the Sun Home, and the ongoing programme that is being developed has already led to the distribution of 3500 solar kits, benefitting 19,000 people.
More than 2.3 million people across the world have already benefited from the Group's projects aimed to promote access to energy. And the example of Enel's project that was narrated by The Guardianshows that sustainability is a demanding and thrilling path to be shared with local communities. In fact, access to electricity is the first step of a path toward sustainable development that must be centered mainly on people.