‘Every time we plan to invest in a community where we intend to operate for years, we must create a reciprocal understanding: in other words, establish common goals aimed at generating wealth from our work.’ Thus Francesco Venturini, CEO of Enel Green Power, reaffirmed the company's strategy at the Powering Africa. Energy for Growth meeting, held at EXPO Milan 2015 as part of the National Day of Kenya.
Among the event’s objectives was to define a sustainable growth plan for emerging countries, based on two key elements: the electrification of rural areas through renewable sources and the promotion of education. In fact, as many as 1.1 billion people around the world still lack access to electricity, thus leading to a series of negative effects in terms of health, nutrition and education. In particular, in Sub Saharan Africa, the only source of energy available to 70 percent of the population without electricity is kerosene, a highly toxic and expensive substance.
Expo was the venue for the second phase of Powering Education, the project promoted by Enel Foundation and Enel Green Power, launched in collaboration with the social enterprise Givewatts and the Global Shaper Community of the World Economic Forum. The objective of the initiative is to distribute solar-powered lamps to hundreds of schoolchildren through schools and other institutions, replacing kerosene lamps and allowing children to study after sunset, reducing their families’ expenses. Thanks to Powering Education, over 1,100 solar lamps were distributed in 70 rural villages that are not served by distribution networks, providing secure access to sustainable energy to more than 5,500 people.
The partnership with Givewatts (part of the Enabling Electricity undertaking) is now entering its second phase, that features the distribution of 800 solar lamps to 60 schools in Kisii county in southwest Kenya.
Possible synergies between Powering Education and other projects promoting access to energy are also under study, such as the development of mini-grids in Kisii county. Powering Education is proof of an experiment that can be replicated in other regions of sub-Saharan Africa. A concrete example of what the UN has defined as ‘partnerships for development’, in other words, a series of activities that can coordinate possible synergies between local/global players and transfer information and the necessary expertise to allow local entrepreneurs to grow in developing countries.