In the 1960s, “Power to the people” was a slogan of political rebellion. In the 21st Century, it could become a rallying cry for economic and social development.

Globalization has come up short in his regard. The benefits flow mainly to the privileged, well-connected few: multinational corporations, big retailers, banks and others with economic heft and political clout. Resentment against the skewed prosperity that has resulted from the past 30 years of globalization has erupted in the US, Western Europe and among the “developing countries” as well. The bigness boon simply hasn’t translated into a better life for a large portion of humanity.

Recently, Chinese leaders have begun to talk about “inter-connected development” in the context of their One Belt, One Road initiative. Compared to the sometimes empty promise of globalization, how much more meaningful, positive and pertinent for poorer people that could sounds.

Today, as many as 1.3 billion humans subsist with no access whatsoever to electricity. Living in predominantly rural areas, they can neither produce nor consume goods and services as the rest of us routinely do. In Africa, 57% of the population lives in the dark; in Asia the figure is 17%.

One of the starkest examples is Guinea. This small country of eleven million contains one third of the world’s bauxite (the ore from which aluminum is made), a massive mountain of high-grade iron ore, major deposits of diamonds and gold, and ample water and fertile soil. The country’s resources are the envy of less well endowed countries, but its per capita income is an astonishing $417. There are many reasons for this tragic anomaly; one is that 89% of Guineans lack electric power.

Even when electricity is sometimes available in Guinea and other parts of the developing world, the supply is often sporadic, unreliable and insanely expensive electricity.   Often, struggling countries rely on expensive, imported diesel fuel to produce electric current. Their often obsolete, undersized and poorly maintained power plants are major polluters and a drain on precious foreign exchange. Such a power supply burdens the country as much as it supports development.

If instead they could produce power locally – safely, reliably, cleanly and relatively inexpensively – billions of poorer humans could employ electricity to their agriculture, health care, education and to the production of the goods for a higher standard of living for themselves. It would open the door for the widespread use of the full array of electronic devices that would connect these regions to the rest of the world, begin their integration into the world economy and raise their standards of living.

Around the world, many aid agencies display the famous saying: “Give a man a fish, and he can eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he can eat for a lifetime.” How much more powerful yet would it be literally to empower poorer people around the world to improve their own lives on a sustained basis?

This is not pie in the sky. As the World Bank succinctly put it: “The good news is that lower costs for renewable energy technologies, adequate energy efficiency measures, and innovation should make it possible for countries to be creative in meeting this challenge. There is also a growing role for the private sector to finance interventions, assuming the incentives are in place for investors to earn returns on their investments.”

Here’s an opportunity for renewable energy suppliers to do well by doing good, providing cheap, clean ad reliable energy to those who desperately need it. The technology has arrived – hydro for countries like Guinea, wind and solar for billions of more who live in sunny and often windy regions. What’s needed to achieve inter-connected development is capital and the political will to act in ways and on a scale never tried before.