Electrical equipment giant Schneider has set up a fund to finance projects aimed at boosting access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa, the French group said yesterday. Some "625 million inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity," Schneider said in a statement announcing the 54.5 million euro Energy Access Ventures Fund. "This lack of electricity impedes social progress and economic development and harms the environment," it said. The goal is to bring electricity to one million households by 2020 through investments in around 20 small and medium-sized African businesses. It will provide technical assistance and focus on businesses that are developing cheap, low-carbon energy for semi-urban and rural populations.