A photograph of nine-year-old Filipino boy Daniel Cabrera doing his homework in the dim lighting of a nearby restaurant in 2015 drew media attention from all around the world, highlighting his tenacity and persistence in the face of difficult circumstances.
But for millions of children growing up without electricity, the photograph was a snapshot of their day-to-day reality, capturing the difficulties of life without energy.
More than 1 billion people in the world—around 16 per cent of the world’s population—have little or no access to electricity. According to reports, over 600 million people live off the grid in Sub-Saharan Africa and in India, they number 300 million.
Electricity, taken for granted in the developed world, is critical for healthcare, education, and livelihoods.
Starting in 2018, Panasonic embarked on the Off-Grid Solutions Project to provide a long term, permanent solution for electrification in rural areas with the aim of improving living standards, building up sustainable communities and alleviating poverty in these communities in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
The Japanese company has started delivering solar power supply stations and energy storage to villages in three countries: Indonesia, Myanmar and Kenya.
Asano Akiko, from Panasonic’s CSR & citizenship department, groupwide brand communications division, told Eco-Business that the aim of the Off-Grid Solutions Project is to help communities develop local industries, which builds on the company’s earlier corporate social responsibility programme, 100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project.
She said that Panasonic also plans to provide night classes for primary schools, literacy classes for women and agriculture cultivation classes, all aimed at helping to increase incomes.
“We do not focus only on donations but, more importantly, on supporting these communities in developing self-sustenance. Currently, we are in discussions with non-governmental organisations about rolling out an education programme. Myanmar is our main target country,” Asano told Eco-Business.
Watch this video to find out more about how Panasonic’s Off-Grid Solutions Project is working to bring electricity to rural communities.