Power to the People: Bringing Light to the Darkness in the Developing World

Over the past two decades, natural disasters and deadly diseases have wreaked havoc around the world, causing millions of deaths, disrupting the lives of billions of people, and leading to trillions of dollars in economic damages and losses. While we cannot prevent global tragedies, we can provide resources to assist in the recovery, healing, and empowering of people, especially those most vulnerable in developing countries.

Our world today paints a grim picture of how most of the world’s population lives in the 21st century: more than a quarter of humanity lives without electricity, a billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. The global community needs to address these issues of poverty and find solutions to spur economic growth and social development in the developing world. But that takes a global commitment and a view that all human lives matter. Whether a person lives in a big, populous city in the U.S. or in a rural village in Africa, all people deserve the basic resources to survive: clean water, energy, refrigeration and communication tools. These are essential necessities that we in the West take for granted but are scarce in the developing world, especially evident during times of deadly tragedy.

I have been an enormous believer and advocate for investing in and deploying energy sources to developing countries with the mission of connecting the world. Half the developing world, or about 2.6 billion people, lack even a simple improved latrine, and 1.1 billion people have no access to any type of improved drinking source of water. As a direct consequence, 1.6 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera) attributable to a lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and, sadly, 90 percent of the victims are children under the age of five.

Unfortunately, life-threatening infections and diseases spread dangerously quickly due to the lack of energy sources to secure basic necessities and the inability to power health care facilities in rural off-grid places. Take for example one of the biggest headline news items today: Ebola, which has killed thousands of lives in Africa and struck fear around the world after isolated cases reached the U.S. and Europe. If we can provide basic human necessities: electricity, clean water, health facilities, communication and educational information to the rural communities in the developing world, we can save thousands of lives and contain diseases like Ebola from spreading.

Energy storage containers are a possible solution to these issues. Our Modular Energy Storage Solution (MESS) includes a generator, batteries and remote monitoring, which provide an environmentally and fiscally sound alternative to delivering, storing and managing power. Bringing these energy storage solutions to the off-the-grid rural communities provides people with safe water, solar power and internet access. It also creates a hub of community activity by providing a place to power up small electrical devices, purify water for safe drinking water, and offering a hub for wireless communication.

Renewable energy solutions provide immediate benefits to communities by electrifying homes and community centers as well powering health care facilities. To help confine deadly diseases such as Ebola, hospitals need to be operating and functional. Electricity is needed to power laboratories, diagnostic equipment and refrigeration for vaccines. These containers also power schools, computers, wireless internet services as well as power centers for small businesses and the machinery and equipment needed to produce goods.
If these types of solutions can get the funding to scale up, we can create disruptive positive change that can improve the lives of millions of people and also prevent the deaths of millions more. When a disease like Ebola strikes with such viciousness and brutality it is a matter of immediate implementation of solutions to protect as many human lives as we possibly can. It’s a matter of action, now. We can beat all life-threating diseases if we can bring the resources to help electrify the local mobile emergency rooms, vaccination centers and community hubs.

I believe in the chain reaction of how energy brings light, clean water, tools of communication and learning, and improves health. While we cannot solve all of the problems in the developing world, we can at least start with the basics of energy. Now is the time to bring light to the darkness and to liberate people through electricity. So, to the international community, I challenge you: Step up, scale up, and power the people.

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Michel J. Freni Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board of Directors Michel J Freni founded Powerstorm Capital in 2011 and is behind its mission to power and connect the developing world, which is expected to contribute more than 70% of global growth by 2025. Prior to Powerstorm, Mr. Freni was the Founder and Chairman of AmKoDia (American Korean Digital Avenue), a privately held entrepreneurial start-up fund serving technology companies in South Korea. He has also served as Chairman of Key Media Management, Inc., a Hong Kong-based consulting firm focused on restructuring media and entertainment companies and providing interim management and strategic advice, and Chairman of the Board of Commodore International, where he helped the Company successfully raise $25 million in a private placement offering. Powerstorm benefits from his three decades of experience as an innovative corporate development specialist, strategic architect and investor with an unparalleled track record of success in global markets and industries ranging from consumer electronics to media to entertainment and most importantly, to telecommunications. Mr. Freni holds a Bachelor of Marketing degree from ISW, Amsterdam. He maintains offices in New York, California and the Netherlands and is fluent in English, Dutch, and German.

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