Around 789 million people worldwide still have no access to electricity, seriously hampering their opportunities for development. But the installation, with the support of the UN development Programme (UNDP), of so-called “swarm grids” in vulnerable communities, from Laos to Mozambique to Vanuatu, is demonstrating that low-cost renewable energy solutions can be an effective alternative to more expensive large-scale grid connections.

The first step to a great future

“This is the first step into a great future”, says Reuben Natamatewia, the Paramount Chief on Lelepa Island, part of the archipelago of 83 islands that make up the nation of Vanuatu, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Mr. Natamatewia is excited by the potential of a swarm grid that has been installed on the island, which, like the vast majority of the nation’s islands, has never been connected to the national grid. Until now, the inhabitants of these…

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