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What is energy poverty?

January 3, 2018


According to Energy 4 Everyone Foundation, energy poverty affects more than 2 billion people. 95% of these people live in developing countries of sub-saharan Africa and Asia. In this article, we explore some of the different meanings applied to energy poverty.


1. Affordability

Under some definitions, a household or community might be considered to be in energy poverty if more than 10% of their income is spent on energy, including fuel, kerosene, etc. It tends to be high for two reasons. The average income is low, so the relatively fixed cost of of energy is high in proportion to the household income. However, also, the cost of power in remote and rural areas is also higher because the power is transmitted further or has to be self-generated using expensive diesel or gas generators. 


2. Usage

A usage based definition of energy poverty focuses on having limited access to power. Without reliable power, people are forced to do things manually, including farming, cooking, gathering water, and cooking. They do not have access to modern appliances that save time, energy and money. Women are particularly affected by this issue as often they are the one's who take the primary household responsibilities that are heavily labour intensive. Low usage is seen to be less than 50kwh per day per capita. 


3. Limited Access

Limited access to energy also reinforces the cycle of poverty. Without reliable power, agriculture and businesses can not employ efficient machinery, produce less and often at lower quality. This makes them less profitable and less able to employ people, leaving less employment opportunities and overall creating downward pressure on average income in the community. Conversely, access to enough power that businesses can reliably access these "productive-use" assets, is known to have a very strong and direct effect on local economic development, employment and income.







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