No poverty reduction sans ample energy!

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The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday asked the government to promote new investments in the energy sector by introducing better regulations as poverty cannot be reduced in presence of energy scarcity.

Access to energy is imperative to transform lives which was not getting proper attention on the national and global level as majority of Pakistanis as well as a third of the world’s population had no access to modern energy services, it said.

Tens of millions in Pakistan and 1.3 billion people worldwide were still without any form of electricity and 2.7 billion people still cook over open fires despite availability of solutions, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

Estimates suggested in the next 17 years three billion people would cook with traditional fuels, more than 30 million people would have died due to smoke-related diseases and hundreds of millions would be confined to poverty due to lack of energy, he informed.

Of those who did not have access to modern energy around 70 per cent were women who spend significant time and money to obtain energy that was not only unpredictable, expensive, unsafe, and highly polluting, he said.

Dr Murtaza Mughal said lack of access to electricity also prevents the development of key social programmes like education, health, sanitation and provision of clean drinking water, continuing a cycle of poverty that is very difficult to break.

He said energy is vital to escape poverty but unfortunately lack of interest on the part of governments had left a third of the world’s population had no access to modern energy services which was impeding global growth. He said Pakistan government should boost efforts to tame energy crisis and promote new investments as provision of electricity is linked to development of agriculture, industry, trade, jobs, medicines, sanitation and water purification.

Every dollar invested in a solar energy generates more than $46 in economic benefits in the first year alone; it results in a stronger economy, a healthier population, and enables parents to ensure a bright future for their families.

He said energy enables people to work their way out of poverty, it provides better access to basic services while improving health and wellbeing of everyone, especially that of women and children.