SDG7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Why it matters
SDG 7 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Access to electricity and clean cooking fuels has improved in many parts of the world, but 675 million people are yet to be connected to electricity grids and 2.3 billion are still cooking with unsafe and polluting fuels. The war in Ukraine and global economic uncertainty continue to cause significant volatility in energy prices, leading some countries to raise investments in renewables and others to increase their reliance on coal, putting the transition to green technologies at risk.
The industry’s contribution
Mobile money and connectivity have enabled the growth of PAYG energy solutions that allow households to purchase solar products and appliances through affordable loans. The World Bank estimates that 270 million solar energy kits have been sold since 2010, providing more than 490 million people with energy services. It also estimates that the total off-grid market is currently valued at $2.8 billion annually.
Mobile connectivity can also improve access to modern cooking facilities. Two types of solutions have gained traction in LMICs in recent years: smart meters for liquefied petroleum gas cylinders and electromagnetic induction stoves. IoT technology plays an important role in both products.
For example, Circle Gas operates in Kenya and Tanzania, providing customers with a stovetop, a gas cylinder and a smart meter that monitors gas usage and sends alerts to a fleet of motorised technicians so they can replace the cylinder before it runs out. This process is underpinned by mobile money, which enables customers to upload money to a digital wallet in the Circle Gas app and pay for gas through a simple transaction on their phone.
Moreover, when the mobile money funds that are loaded on the embedded digital wallet run out, the smart meter ensures the tamper-proof cylinder valve automatically shuts off the gas supply.
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Maximising mobile’s impact by 2030
One of the key challenges to overcome in decarbonising the mobile sector is access to renewable electricity. The good news is that the industry is moving forward, with operators now directly purchasing 24% of their electricity from renewable sources, up from 18% in 2021 and 14% in 2020. This is in addition to renewables supplied through the electricity grid mix. However, operator demand is outstripping supply. Governments can help expand renewable electricity access to facilitate private sector purchases in order for the mobile industry to maximise its impact on SDG 7 by 2030.
Affordable, clean cooking through mobile technology in Tanzania – KopaGas
Changing lives through mobile-enabled solar-powered irrigation in Kenya - SunCulture
Improving electricity grid services through smart metering - Jazz
Community Solar Hubs