In sub-Saharan Africa, over 600 million people live without electricity, and nearly 940 million rely on harmful fuels for cooking. This situation leads to approximately 2.6 million premature deaths annually, with 490,000 related to indoor air pollution, mainly affecting women and children. Lack of access to energy entraps populations in poverty and impacts all aspects of life, including women’s health, education, and income.

But access to clean energy can change this reality. Let’s explore how it could impact women’s empowerment in these regions.

In this article, we will delve into these issues, highlighting existing programs working to promote access to clean and sustainable energy for women, thus offering a brighter and more promising future for the region.

The impact of Access to Clean Energy on Women’s Empowerment in Africa

Have you ever imagined your daily life without access to clean electricity?

Now, imagine Fatou. Every evening, Fatou returns home in darkness, unable to perform her tasks safely. Without light, even the simplest tasks become challenges. She must draw water from the well in the darkness, hoping the water is clean. In her dim kitchen, Fatou cooks over a charcoal fire, inhaling toxic fumes each time, suffocating her. The health risks are high, but she has no other choice. Her children study by the flickering light of candles, their education suffering.

The lack of access to clean electricity affects not only Fatou’s household but also her economic opportunities. Without access to modern technologies, she cannot increase her productivity or explore other sources of income. Her domestic chores consume much of her time, as without electrical appliances, each task is laborious and time-consuming. She dreams of having more time for herself, to learn new skills, to engage in her community. But for now, she is trapped in her domestic obligations, contributing to the vicious cycle of gender inequality.

In her sub-Saharan African village, outdated infrastructure and unreliable power grids often hinder progress. Insufficient production capacity, poor transmission and distribution to users, high connection fees, unpredictable income flows, and high tariffs discourage consumers from adopting modern energy services.

In this context, solar solutions present themselves as a considerably advantageous alternative. Especially in rural areas where over 80% of people lack electricity, mini-grids and standalone systems, primarily based on solar energy, emerge as the most viable solutions. In the continuation of our exploration, we will highlight existing initiatives and programs aimed at providing women with access to solar energy, thus offering promising prospects for their empowerment in the region.

Growth & Shine: Transforming Lives, Empowering Communities

To address energy access issues, programs like “Growth & Shine” have been created. Sandrine GAHIMBARE, developer of the Growth & Shine program at Growth Energy, explains how this program contributes to women’s empowerment through clean energy.

The Growth & Shine program, developed by the Growth Supply group through its subsidiary Growth Energy, aims to promote renewable energy in Africa, with a focus on solar energy. It encourages the use of productive solar kits to stimulate income-generating activities, especially in agribusiness, while empowering local communities.

This program relies on a collaborative ecosystem involving financial institutions, development partners, and business incubators. It facilitates access to financial services for the purchase of solar kits and supports micro-enterprises. This approach ensures lasting impact and contributes to the economic empowerment of beneficiaries.

Combining renewable energy and women’s entrepreneurship

Among the main features of this program is the emphasis on social inclusion and the participation of women and youth.

“Our program integrates the promotion of renewable energy, support for local businesses, training, and empowerment of populations. It stands out for its commitment to social inclusion, the participation of women and youth, with an approach focused on community development.”

How does your program aim to support sustainable development and empower local communities?

“We aim to create ecosystems conducive to affordable access to solar kits, specifically targeting cooperatives and women’s groups to promote women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment.”

What message would you like to convey to those interested in your program or wishing to engage in similar initiatives?

“Join us in our mission to promote renewable energy for sustainable development in Africa, with a particular focus on women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment. Together, we can create a positive and lasting impact for local communities and the environment.”

Access to clean energy is a crucial lever for women’s empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite persistent challenges, initiatives like “Growth & Shine” offer promising solutions. Together, we can create a lasting impact for local communities and the environment by promoting women’s entrepreneurship and clean energy!

Financial institutions or business incubators based in Africa, you can participate in this unique program today. Join the initiative now!