Energy is a key driver for economic development and social progress, yet access to sustainable energy services remains a challenge for low-income communities in developing countries. To reach communities that do not have energy access today, new business models, supported by appropriate policy frameworks, are needed.

GDF SUEZ believes that the private sector has an important role to play in designing and delivering innovative solutions to bridge the “energy divide” and support a transition to a low-carbon energy future in the developing world.

The company is active across the entire energy value chain, in electricity and natural gas, upstream and downstream. GDF SUEZ is also helping local communities to access energy through tailor-made solutions and investment in dedicated projects to support access to energy for low-income populations.

In Brazil, the company inaugurated the São Salvador dam in 2009, which will generate enough electricity to supply a city of one million people. 54% of the 10,000 direct and indirect jobs the project created have been filled by local workers and more than 10% of the total investment was dedicated to social and environmental programs, which included relocating displaced populations and protecting fauna and flora. In Estreito, where the company is building a large hydroelectric plant, GDF SUEZ has committed EUR 130 million to social and environmental programs, including access to energy, which will be implemented in collaboration with the local communities.

In Morocco, GDF SUEZ has developed an initiative, through the Group’s subsidiary LYDEC, to support electrification in several dozen shantytowns in Casablanca. Prior to the initiative, inhabitants resorted to illegal leaks and network connections, often leading to serious accidents. In the late 1990s, LYDEC set up an innovative partnership with local authorities and communities to provide legal access to a safe and reliable electricity supply system.

The electrification program has allowed more than 30,000 households (amounting to some 200,000 inhabitants) to connect to the electricity supply system under a management approach that uses “street representatives” from the local community to manage and coordinate daily operations and provide technical support to users.

The program has been incorporated into an extensive national project to fight poverty where the aim is to connect more than 145,000 households to essential urban services, including water, waste and electricity, by the end of 2009.

GDF SUEZ is integrating energy poverty issues into its sustainable development strategy, with a declared ambition to “redefine the relationship between people and energy, to make energy a source of progress and sustainable development (energy accessible to as many people as possible, more reliably, consumed more efficiently, and showing greater respect for human beings and their environment).”