ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you so much, and good morning everyone, or good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you find yourself.
I would like to start by thanking Special Representative Ogunbiyi and Secretary General Guterres for convening this important forum today. As you know, this is the first General Assembly dialogue to focus on energy in more than 40 years. This itself is remarkable, and I think if we’re honest, quite unfortunate fact. To say that this gathering is overdue is not to do it justice, but it is a tribune to those who have organized it.
If we are serious about ending poverty, then we need to end energy poverty to unlock the productivity that fuels economic growth.
If we’re serious, as we say we are, about expanding opportunity for women and girls, and giving rural women in poor countries options beyond manual labor like milling grain and gathering firewood, then we need to expand access to electricity so they can enter the formal economy.
If we want children to study without having to gather under streetlights, if we want COVID-19 vaccines to stay cold on their way from ports to remote villages, and if we want countries to prosper while fighting climate change at the same time, then we need to provide reliable, affordable clean energy to the nearly 760 million people whose day ends at nightfall. 75 percent of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Since 2013, the United States’ Power Africa initiative has worked with partner countries to bring electricity to more than 118 million people across the continent, taking advantage of revolutions in technologies like off-grid solar and wind, run-of-river hydropower, and improved battery storage to help renewable energy solutions reach last mile communities.
In areas where these interventions have occurred, parents no longer have to worry that the smoke from kerosene lanterns might suffocate their children while they stay up reading. Farmers and fishermen won’t lose the majority of their harvests or catches, because they have no way to refrigerate their goods before they spoil. And health clinics in these communities where Power Africa has made progress—health clinics in Africa, one in four of which do not have access to electricity—are able to keep the lights on to treat patients and help deliver children, because medical emergencies don’t wait for sunrise or diesel generators to be refueled.
Tomorrow, I’m pleased to say, Secretary Kerry will unveil the Biden Administration’s plan to partner with countries in Africa and elsewhere to transition their economies to clean energy, and to take advantage of new renewable technologies that undeniably demonstrate that societies can grow and go green at the same time.
As renewable energy gets cheaper, batteries grow more effective, and the gains of electrification become clearer, the world can do both. In fact we know we must. And I hope this gathering becomes an inflection point in recognizing just how urgent clean electrification is in the lives of those who do not have power.
Thank you so much.