2013 has not been a very good year for Bangladesh. With all the negative press we have received this year as a nation, it is nice to see that things are not all bad. At least we are still improving the lives of some of our countrymen by providing them with electric power through solar technology.
Bangladesh has seen great success in the proliferation of solar home systems to off-grid areas of the country. A singularly important task when we take into account the fact that only about 30 percent of rural households are actually connected to the national grid.
It is indeed comforting to see that the nation has recognised the need to provide clean electric power to these households.
Not only does this initiative vastly improve the living standard of those living in off-grid areas, it also shows us that clean energy alternatives are a feasible option in the nation.
As we deplete our own scarce energy resources (present estimates suggest that our current natural gas reserves will run out by 2025), and the cost of imported fuel continues to rise, the country must turn to renewable energy options to make up for projected shortfalls.
So far, the successful solar home system initiative has been a private endeavour, funded by international donors. Now is the time for these programmes to be scaled-up.
We do not suggest the government take over and crowd-out the private sector; instead we envision more government support for such programmes with regard to regulation and provision of incentives.
If appropriate steps are taken now, the nation will likely gain from significant long-term benefits.