According to the IEA, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.7 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking. The vast majority of energy poverty occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia and is overwhelmingly a rural problem. These deprivations stunt economic opportunities, and impose costs in health, gender, education and convenience.

The constraints of mitigating climate change while expanding access to modern energy present a challenge for large international initiatives, including the new UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and Norway’s Energy+ Partnership. Practitioners in developing countries throughout the world have pioneered innovative business models and sector capacity building programs that have successfully extended sustainable modern energy services to consumers that had previously been beyond the reach of traditional delivery mechanisms.

In order to build on this knowledge, WRI recently convened a workshop to gather developing country, community level sustainable energy service providers and solicit insights on how to scale up delivery of sustainable modern energy to underserved communities. We propose sharing the lessons and perspectives that emerged, and discussing how they could inform the new international energy access initiatives, in a panel discussion with developing country entrepreneurs, a representative from Norway, and a representative from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).


  • Niki Armacost, ArcFinance
  • Sarah Alexander, SELCO
  • Mahavedan (Mack) Ramachandran, Offset4Poor
  • Koffi Ekouevi, Senior Economist, World Bank Sustainable Energy Department
  • Athena Ballesteros, World Resources Institute (Chair)

Contact: Emily Norford (