Sustainable access to modern, climate friendly energy services improves the lives of people in developing countries in many different ways. For example, with efficient cooking stoves, women and girls – that often take over such domestic tasks – spend less time gathering firewood and the air in their houses is less polluted. Better lighting reduces health risks and makes it easier for children to do their school work. In addition, an efficient energy supply raises the productivity and the quality of services, including in health and education.
In spite of this, 1.3 billion people (around 18% of the world's population) still have no access to electricity and 2.6 billion people have no access to modern cooking equipment and heating energy. More than 95% of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and 84% of them live in rural areas. This is why the SDC supports the "Energising Development" project (EnDev). EnDev is a partnership of six countries that aims to ensure sustainable access to energy for some 15 million people in developing countries by 2018. The project involves activities in more than 20 low and middle-income countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Already 13.9 million people have gained access to a modern source of energy since the project started in 2005. The objective of connecting 15 million people to a modern source of energy has almost been achieved, which is why discussions on extending the funding period and raising the target number are now under way.
Creating local energy markets
EnDev supports measures for supplying electricity for household information and communications equipment, such as telephones and computers, as well as for cooking and heating equipment. In addition, through the project energy is being made available to social institutions, such as schools, hospitals and community centres, as well as to small and medium-sized enterprises. EnDev's activities focus on providing energy services that are reliable, affordable, socially acceptable and environmentally friendly.
The process of selecting measures and projects eligible for EnDev support combines competition and analysis of needs. The long-term sustainability of measures is the main selection criterion. Participation and local ownership are another important criterion. The aim is to create energy markets from which households can obtain affordable energy services. Households should not only be supplied with energy on a temporary basis but should themselves understand the relevance of energy in their own lives as well as their own needs, and be able to purchase it at fair prices. Through this competitive market-driven approach, EnDev can expand efficient activities rapidly to other regions or countries and redirect its financial resources flexibly in accordance with the performance and success of the measures it adopts.
Important contribution to meeting global energy objectives
In one EnDev pilot project, for example, hydro-power stations were built in villages in the Sidama zone in southern Ethiopia. In collaboration with the local government, EnDev coordinated the construction of hydro-power stations and electricity networks and trained local mechanics and technicians. The local communities maintained the system themselves, acquired new customers, drafted the regulations and set the electricity prices. This created a sustainable and efficient electricity market that was accessible for all households. Given the success of this pilot project the Sidama regional government plans to extend the concept to other localities in the region.
With its support for the EnDev project the SDC is making an important contribution to achieving the objectives of the UN initiative "Sustainable Energy for All" (SE4All) which was launched in 2011 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. SE4All has placed energy at the centre of the global development agenda. The aim is to meet the following three closely related objectives by 2030: Ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.