After learning that three babies died in a government hospital in the Sierra Leone city of Bo last November when a power cut switched off machinery keeping them alive, London-based energy adviser Michael Liebreich decided to act.
He set up Project Bo to provide a solar electricity and battery system to supply uninterrupted power to the hospital’s oxygen devices and baby “warmers”.
The campaign has so far raised just over three-quarters of the £100,000 ($135,830) it is seeking.
A shift in thinking is needed to channel more funding to places where a lack of clean, reliable power is putting babies in danger and holding people back, Liebreich told a Lisbon conference on improving access to energy this month.
“The economic value of saving that life is currently not financeable,” said the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, urging greater efforts to work out how it could be turned into something “markets can spray money at”.
Shine, an investment campaign officially launched at the Portugal forum, aims to do just that.
It brings together more than 35 faith, financial and philanthropic organisations – including the IKEA Foundation, the World Evangelical Alliance and Oikocredit, a cooperative and social impact investor – that will galvanise new money and expand solutions to boost energy access in the world’s poorest communities.
U.N. data showed last week that roughly 1 billion people on the planet still have no electric power, while about 3 billion cook with polluting fuels such as kerosene, crop waste and dung.
Investments by governments and business are lagging far behind the amounts needed to close the gap in providing sustainable and affordable energy to everyone by the U.N. deadline of 2030.
Experts estimate that would require just 0.2 percent of global gross domestic product.
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