NEW YORK — The attainment of affordable energy through investments in alternative sources will enhance socio-economic growth in rural communities across the globe by 2030, Mr. Tonye Cole, Executive Director, Sahara Group has said at a meeting dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals during the ongoing 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Cole, who represents Sahara Group – a leading African Energy, Power and Infrastructure Conglomerate – on the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F), told delegates that governments in developing nations need to explore more partnership platforms with the private sector in the quest for alternative energy sources.

The meeting which focused on Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) was attended by President of the World Bank, H.E Mr. Jim Yong Kim, Foreign Minister of Denmark, H.E Mr. Kristian Jensen, Prime Minister of Benin, H.E Mr. Lionel Zinsou, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, H.E Mr. Neven Mimica and President of the African Development Bank, H.E Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, among others.

“Substantial investments are required to achieve affordable and sustainable energy in developing nations. Wind and solar energy are possible options that can be harnessed in rural communities where consumption is relatively low. With the right strategy and unwavering commitment from all stakeholders, we will be setting solid foundations for deploying alternative energy sources to transform lives and small businesses for disadvantaged communities across the globe,” Cole explained.

Cole said governments and power companies need to collaborate on sensitizing the populace on the value chain of the power sector to ensure support for policies as well as address incidences of energy losses and theft that disrupt energy availability in developing nations.

Delegates at the meeting were unanimous in urging the development of location specific action plans as the world seeks to achieve SDG 7. World Bank President, Kim, said following its collaboration with the UN on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the World Bank was excited about SDG 7 and further partnership with the Private Sector in a bid to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all by 2030.

ADB President, Adesina, urged African nations to take ownership of the process of taking affordable energy to rural communities, adding that his tenure at the ADB would focus on promoting sustainability and maximum impact for all interventions midwifed by the institution.

Sahara Group has among other initiatives and collaborations, been promoting alternative energy sources through the “Sahara Light Up Nigeria Challenge”, a capacity building competition that seeks to produce inventions that support renewable, alternative and sustainable sources of power supply. The competition, which the company hosts through Sahara Foundation, inspires students of higher institutions of learning across Nigeria to explore opportunities for achieving sustainable power supply within their environment. Sahara is exploring opportunities of replicating the project across other locations where it operates.

In 2015, some students from the winning institution, Kaduna Polytechnic, located in the Northwest Nigeria, invented a self-running hydro-power system that runs solely on the kinetic energy of water. The energy produced is stored in a 75-litre enclosed water tank that houses a pump and other materials required to drive generation of electricity. The technology is made from locally modified and recycled parts to ensure that it is environmentally friendly. The development of this project has brought about an alternative to electricity generation for small businesses, a health care center and a school within the impact area of the project.

Sahara Group is a leading privately owned African Power, Energy, Gas and Infrastructure Conglomerate with operating entities active in the Downstream, Midstream, Upstream, Infrastructure and Power sectors. Sahara currently has its operations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and continues to explore new frontiers to replicate its passion for seeking creative, cleaner and sustainable ways of being the provider of choice wherever energy is consumed. The Group is a member of the World Economic Forum community – Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) and collaborates with global, regional and national organisations to promote sustainable development and transparency in business.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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