Why access to energy matters to women and girls
A push for better energy access for women and girls. Source: Stears Business

Recently, I was talking to my friend about the cost of gas. In the last year, I have personally gone from purchasing a regular cooking cylinder of gas for ₦4,000 to purchasing it for ₦9,000. I was lamenting how everything is incredibly expensive in Lagos. She told me how her mother, who owns one of the popular catering businesses in Lagos, made a management decision to go back to cooking with firewood. My friend explained that her mother's business only used cooking gas for Asian cuisine because of the required temperature regulation.

This story of high prices and desperate decisions is widespread today in Nigeria.

 

Some takeaways:

 
  • Seven hundred and seventy (770) million people worldwide do not have energy access, and three-quarters of these people live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Less than 10% of Nigeria's population uses a source of energy that will not harm them severely.

  • Nigerian girls spend an average of 18 working weeks a year collecting biofuel, which is a striking amount of time to spend gathering inefficient energy.


Energy is all around us in the modern world. Most people in developed countries do not think about how much energy is needed to survive. This is because energy is readily available and affordable. But, most of the energy options in the developing world are inaccessible and unaffordable. For this reason, people in poorer countries may have a more accurate sense of how crucial energy is. This frames the way we view energy poverty in both regions.

In developed societies, energy is available if you can pay for it. And most people can. But, most people cannot afford the few available energy options in developing societies.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) defined energy poverty back in 2010 as the lack of access to sustainable modern energy products and services. This definition works, of course—but most of the world is energy poor by this definition. Habitat for Humanity takes it further by explaining that it is not only a matter of sustainability: energy poverty can be found in all conditions where there is a lack of adequate, affordable, reliable, quality, safe and environmentally sound energy services to support development. This definition helps us contextualise energy poverty because it introduces factors affecting access to the energy people need.

While energy poverty is

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Ahunna Nwaogwugwu

Ahunna Nwaogwugwu

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