NORWAY – The government of Norway has committed to allocating US$32.88 million (NOK300 million) annually to provide better guarantees for businesses that are willing to invest in renewable energy in poor countries.

Norway’s Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein while giving the announcement noted that providing increased access to clean energy will reduce poverty, improve health and mitigate climate change in these countries.

 The fund for renewable energy comes at a time when the world is facing a climate crisis and would have a significant impact as most developing countries depend on strong growth in energy production in order to reduce poverty.

According to the United Nations, half of the 840 million people globally who currently lack access to electricity live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Un further notes that about three billion people have no way to cook meals or heat their homes without being exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution.

Mr Ulstein said that time for achieving the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 was running out adding that “this goal cannot be reached without better access to energy.”

Investing in developing countries involves risk, and this in turn inhibits the growth in investment that is needed to achieve full access to modern energy, and not least to combat climate change.

Guarantee schemes such as the one being provided by the Norwegian government can cover part of the possible losses, reducing the level of risk.

The Minister of International development noted that Norwegian actors have accomplished a lot within the existing guarantee schemes – often in the form of large-scale projects serving urban areas.

 Ulstein said this new initiative will make it easier to provide small-scale solutions for the poorest people in rural areas adding that the government of Norway had already set aside US$16.44 million (NOK150 million) and aims to allocate up to US$32.88 (NOK300 million) a year for the green energy initiative.

In addition to fighting poverty and mitigating climate change, this initiative supports three of my main priorities as Minister of International Development: the fight against non-communicable diseases, more aid to the world’s poorest people, and a more efficient agricultural and business sector in rural areas.