Living in Madhopur Diara village, across the river Ganga, about 15km from Patna, 12-year-old Soni didn't see a light bulb until she turned eight. For years, she walked through the dusty fog trying to find her way to school.
Electricity is a basic infrastructure requirement for any healthcare unit. But in developing geographies like India and some East African countries, not all healthcare institutions have access to electricity. As per government records, 50% of sub-centres in some states of India were not connected to the grid. Non-government hospitals that serve the hinterlands often must rely on diesel generators owing to voltage fluctuations and outages that sometimes last for weeks. While renewable energy (RE) technology is available, it requires capital investments which many institutions do not have. Thus, access to clean electricity also includes access to affordable finance.
A new report by the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP) highlights the unreliability of power supply in India's rural Jharkhand state. A senior official speaking at the report launch event stated that inefficiencies in the management of power utilities are one of the biggest challenges in ensuring 24x7 power supply.
Despite being a US$ 50 billion market and an opportunity to increase incomes for rural communities in India, solar-powered productive-use appliances -- for tailoring, food processing, carpentry and others -- are still unable to access end-user finance and therefore unable to scale, according to a new report.
In 2019, India announced the completion of the Saubhagya Initiative, its program to provide electricity connections to every village and every home in the country. However, even though millions more are now connected, problems remain (and new ones have emerged), including unreliable supply of power, a lack of workforce capacity for utilities (DISCOMs) to serve an expanded customer base and additional stress of fiscal health.
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