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Addressing Energy Poverty in Haiti

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Addressing Energy Poverty in Haiti

SEATTLE — About 1.2 billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity. In September of 2015, world leaders of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which featured 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal number seven of the agenda reads, “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, former chief executive of the World Bank, says addressing energy poverty is vital to alleviating poverty more broadly. Sigora Haiti is a renewable energy company working to address energy poverty in Haiti. According to the latest data from the World Bank, only about 38 percent of Haitians have access to electricity — 72 percent in urban areas and about 15 percent in rural areas. A 2014 World Bank report on poverty in Haiti identified electricity as being essential to increasing productivity and creating jobs in rural areas.

Established in 2015, Sigora Haiti’s mission is “to provide Haiti with access to reliable, clean and ethically priced electricity.” The company was founded by Sigora Solar, a solar design and installation company based out of Virginia. Its pilot program succeeded in bringing 24-hour electricity to a health clinic in Mole St. Nicholas, a small village in northwestern Haiti. Prior to this, the clinic was trying to survive on only two hours of electricity per day, which meant there was no refrigeration for vaccines and no services at night. According to the clinic’s director, Dr. Blaise Pierre Anderson, the improvements from having electricity all of the time “have been transformative.”

Sigora Haiti is seeking to solve several of the problems with Haiti’s current energy program, which relies primarily on fossil fuels, does not meet the country’s current energy demands and incurs losses due to theft. The company uses solar and wind power, both abundantly available in Haiti as sources of electricity. It purchased land for the solar power and leases a location for the wind generation.

In addition, Sigora Haiti signed a 50-year contract with the village of Mole St. Nicholas to supply the village power. The company has also developed the “Sigora Meter,” which uses smart meter technology and allows customers to prepay for the electricity. It was developed in a way that also makes it effective in preventing theft.

Andy Bindea, the founder of Sigora Solar, says Sigora Haiti has a goal of “generating 116,000kW of electricity for nearly two million people and creating nearly 6,000 jobs in the process.” All of this the company plans to do by the year 2025, which will clear the way to end energy poverty in Haiti.

– Kristin Westad