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Coronavirus: UN envoy decries electricity challenges

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A United Nations envoy, Ms. Damilola Ogunbiyi, has decried electricity supply challenges in most developing countries battling the coronavirus pandemic.

She said efforts by the global community to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are suppressed by electricity supply challenges.

Ogunbiyi, who is the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, gave the warning in an article published by Thompson Reuters Foundation News.

In the opinion piece titled: “Power in a pandemic – why energy access matters during Coronavirus”, Ogunbiyi stated that the social distancing and stay-at-home measures adopted by many countries could only work where there was stable and sufficient power supply.

But this is not the case in Africa and parts of Asia with an estimated 840 million people, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, living without access to electricity, she submitted.

“As the virus spreads, especially across Africa and parts of Asia, one of the most used preventative measures is a luxury not all countries can afford.

“Social distancing and stay-at-home measures being adopted in many countries are predicated on an important assumption: that populations have access to reliable, affordable electricity to stay connected and continue to communicate with public services and one another remotely.

“The reality is 840 million people, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, are living without access to electricity and hundreds of millions more only have access to very limited or unreliable electricity.

“Many of these people, largely women, reside either in crowded cities or rural areas.

“‘Sheltering in place in such areas for long periods may not be possible as energy is needed to cook and store food, or to cool homes,” she said.

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