...the future belongs to Renewable Energy Technologies. But unless this technology can reach the millions of rural people who suffer most from the energy crisis, it will not reach its full potential...

Acceptance speech – Grameen Shakti

Honorable Speaker, Honorable Parliament Members, Excellencies
Ladies, Gentlemen
Good Evening to All

I feel greatly honored to be present here to receive the prestigious Right Livelihood Award on behalf of Grameen Shakti.

By honoring Grameen Shakti, you have honored the dedication and commitment of thousands of our staff who are spread all over Bangladesh to take renewable energy technologies to the  millions of energy starved  rural people, bringing them light,  income and health. You have also brought to the forefront the inherent creativity and entrepreneurial capabilities of more than one million of our clients who have utilized the opportunity our program has given them to transform their lives.

Grameen Shakti is today one of the largest and fastest growing renewable energy companies in the world, promoting solar home systems (SHS), biogas plants and Improved Cook Stoves (ICS). As of November 2007, we have installed over 120, 000 SHS with more than 4000 SHS installed per month.

70% of Bangladeshi people have no access to efficient energy. Millions of our people are subjected to spending their lives in darkness accompanied by kerosene fumes. Our program has brought succor and light to this people. In thousands of rural houses children can study by solar light, get connected to the world through solar powered televisions and mobile phones, their lives free from smoke and smell of kerosene. This makes a huge difference in life of a rural family, giving them hope, health and income generating opportunities. Thousands of our happy and satisfied clients are our greatest promoters and Shakti is becoming a household name in rural Bangladesh. In many rural areas, Shakti stands for Solar and Renewables. This is our success story.

Grameen Shakti has shown that advanced technology with high upfront costs can   be brought to poor rural villagers in a sustainable way. We provide soft credit to reduce costs, ensure cost effective after sales service at the rural level and offer consumer friendly options such as buy back method and most importantly link renewable technology with income generating opportunities such as through micro-utility model.

However our greatest success is the dramatic changes we have brought to the lives of rural women. Women are the main victims of the energy crisis. They are the ones who suffer most from indoor air pollution, drudgery and lack of time etc. In thousands of rural homes, women are cooking in smoke free kitchens with biogas, enjoying the bright light of solar systems and taking up income generating activities after dusk.

Like Gramen Bank, we believe that women should be bringers of social change for their communities.  We set up 20 Grameen Technology Centers (GTCs) to do just that – transfer technology and knowledge to rural communities through their women. These GTCs staffed by women engineers have trained more than 1000 women as technicians. Many of them are operating independently to market, install, repair and maintain Solar Home Systems. Others are assembling solar accessories at the local GTCs. Many are also promoting and constructing Improved Cook stoves. That young women from the most conservative society would leave the home and operate independently as technicians, was unimaginable only a few years ago. We can call this one of our greatest achievements.

Right Livelihood Award celebrates people of vision and commitment, people who have ideas and take steps to translate these ideas into initiatives for changing the world, bringing new hope into the lives of people.

By honoring Grameen Shakti, Right Livelihood Award has been true to its commitment. It has recognized a sustainable and market based model which may bring health, energy, income generating opportunities to millions of people in developing countries, suffering from twin evils of this era – energy and environmental crisis. It has honored the commitment of GS to bring rural people especially rural women out of darkness into the light of renewable energy to transform their lives and the lives of others in the community.

It is a fact that the future belongs to Renewable Energy Technologies. But unless this technology can reach the most deprived and vulnerable group in the world today – the millions of rural people who suffer most from the energy crisis – this technology will not reach its full potential, neither will the economic and social problems of the world be solved.

Grameen Shakti can show the way. We have created a sustainable business model, which could show other organizations in developing countries to start renewable energy service companies (RESCO) to promote rural electrification. Our model can bring light, energy, health, income to millions of energy starved people in the world.

Our dream is to see a World, where every citizen of this earth has access to pollution free efficient energy so each of us can live with dignity and realize our full potential.

As you know my country Bangladesh is a disaster prone country, a victim of Global Warming, Seasonal Floods, Deforestation, Land Slides including Cyclones and Tornados. Our people are victims of wrong policies and the existing Global System, which works against the disadvantaged and the developing countries. We can have a Green Energy Revolution to stem these negative tides and create a New Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh we have set a goal to reach at least 20 million rural people with Solar Home Systems, including other renewables by 2015. We have a dream of providing all modern facilities to thousands of rural villages by 2015. They will use solar or biogas to get connected through Internet, their children will study through distance learning, they will enjoy the facilities of telemedicine. Biogas plants will give them energy to run machineries, power vehicles at the same time boosting agro-livestock business. We are dreaming of a Cleaner, Greener and Healthier Bangladesh.

We have a long way to go to fulfill this dream for Bangladesh and the World. We are still at the starting point where the full potential of renewable energy is yet to be realized. By recognizing the potential of renewable energy at this early stage and our potential as a role model, you have inspired ours staff and well wishers to aim for greater heights, find more innovative solutions and make Grameen Shakti into a beacon of light, hope and promise for a New Green World. You have also inspired thousands of others in developing countries to start GS Model Organizations to meet the energy needs of their rural people.

Thank you for the great honor shown to me and Grameen Shakti. It was a great pleasure to address you all.

Thank you once again.

Grameen Shakti
Managing Director Abser Kamal
Grameen Bank Bhaban
Dhaka 1216

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