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War-Torn States Look to Local Renewables, Rooftop Solar for Greater Stability

Desperate to improve energy access for their citizens, some of the world’s most fragile states have delivered an open letter to wealthy nations, development banks, and the private sector, pleading for support to expand distributed renewable energy systems like inexpensive and relatively conflict-resistant rooftop solar.

Afghanistan, Sudan, and Yemen are among the countries calling on the world’s wealthy nations to increase their funding to multilateral development organizations like the African Development Bank, writes Climate Home News. 

“Over 800 million people have no access to electricity worldwide and 86% of them live in 57 nations considered fragile by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) because they suffer problems like war, division, and ineffective government,” Climate Home explains.

Accompanying the open letter was a recent report by the UK-based Council on State Fragility (CSF), which found that available aid dollars are increasingly going to less fragile developing states.

At a webinar organized by CSF, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf noted the transformative power of distributed renewable energy platforms like small-scale solar and hydropower. Especially in rural areas, she said, the inexpensive, resilient technologies have brought “safety to homes, opportunities for distance learning to schools, technological advancement to hospitals, and a chance for small businesses to expand.”

But Climate Home notes that investing in energy development in fragile states can be challenging, pointing to “the limited power of the state, undeveloped energy markets, difficulty getting affordable credit, burdensome due diligence requirements, political instability, and the risk of currencies devaluing.”

But renewable energy, especially rooftop solar, can offer particular benefits in such regions. Not only are the systems “now generally cheaper than fossil fuels,” Climate Home explains, they are also “harder for armed groups to destroy.”