Providing Africans with access to electricity: possible solutions to urgent needs
“Electricity means being able to check if someone is sick without having hands occupied with a flashlight”, Doctor in a rural health center, GuineaWhile 80% of the world’s population has access to electricity, only 30% of the African population enjoys this benefit. Today, almost 600 million inhabitants live without electricity, particularly in rural areas.
In some countries, such as Liberia, there is virtually no access to electricity. In others, there are huge inequalities. In Senegal for example, 90% of the population of the capital Dakar, has access to electricity, while rural communities only 50 km away have almost none.
“When children have to prepare exams, we gave them a kit to work at night”, local chief, Gabon When night falls most of Africa is plunged into total darkness. African women take far longer to carry out basic household tasks and the children cannot study at night. Power cuts and the high cost of traditional alternatives such as generators affect the productivity and profitability of African businesses and impact employment. A small business with ten employees can spend up to 300 CFA Francs (USD 0.50) a month on fuel for an electric generator on top of its standard electricity bill.
“It really reinforced solidarity and social bonds. Before solar panels, everyone used to go back home at 7.00 p.m.; now we can gather and chat together”, inhabitant, Olosho-Oibor, KenyaEnergy is vital for development and inclusive, fast-track growth in Africa. Energy will determine Africa’s ability to unleash its full potential and improve living conditions.
Several solutions have already proved effective. The founders of Akon Lighting Africa are convinced that these must be rolled out on a broader scale and deployment fast-tracked. To achieve this, the Akon Lighting Africa initiative involves the installation of three types of solar-powered equipment: public street lighting, solar micro-generators for use by communities and household connection kits.