By Betty Maina
As the world braces to review the developments made since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 on sustainable development, it is important to look at one of the main factors of sustainable development today â energy and its access.
Energy is no doubt the driving force of livelihoods in any civilisation. As a matter of fact, access to quality energy sources often determines bloom or gloom in many societies.
As populations surge and the need for more resources to sustain the swelling numbers is vital, it is critical to look at the energy capacity to support the heightened demand levels for food and other products.
Access to energy sources has continued to be a challenge especially at the household level. It is complicated by the gender disparity issue especially in many African economies.
It is for this reason that developing nations should pay greater attention to the challenges of energy access and particularly so with the gender factor in mind.
As the world progresses towards sustainable development in various realms, the underlying strength of the importance of energy access especially by women especially in rural communities remains a challenge that could unlock great potential. Women the world over and especially in developing nations are known to be the primary users of energy at the family unit level.
However in most of these cases the women do not have the rights to the sources of energy in economic and legal terms most of the time.
Energy accessibility demands a direct link to economic and financial resources, which in most developing nations is skewed towards men. Men and women need to be empowered to access clean and sustainable energy sources. And, as the global economy gravitates towards green energy, national leaders will have to make concerted efforts towards ensuring their citizens have access to energy.
Each state has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that its populace is connected to the most economically viable energy resources at the most competitive price and governments have to be held accountable in this regard. It is obvious that energy is a critical factor of production and, therefore, has a direct bearing on quality of life at the micro level. To this end governments have to ensure there is supportive legislation in relation to access to energy in all sectors.
Policies on investments to increase access to improved energy services provide essential support for economic and social development â and womenâs empowerment â as well as environmental benefits and climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience. Currently, biomass fuels (wood and agricultural waste) are the main sources of energy for over 2.5 billion people in poor countries.
Modern fuels, mechanised power and electricity can provide new opportunities for economic and social development, especially for women, whose traditional roles in developing nations often include gathering biomass fuels from the local environment.