‘Many In Africa Still Without Electricity’

Electrification was the greatest achievement of the 20th century, according to the US Academy of Engineering.

For people in North America and Europe, the availability of power at the flick of a switch has become so commonplace it is no longer remarkable.

But for 1.2 billion people in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, electricity was still a dream in 2011.

More than 300 million people in India were without access to electricity, which the International Energy Agency defines as consuming at least 250 kilowatt-hours per year for a rural household and 500 kilowatt-hours for an urban one.

Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh and Pakistan each had more than 50 million people without power.

Another 43 nations, virtually all in sub-Saharan Africa, had at least a million people  with no electricity http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/2014/04/28/153002d337.pdf .

But the big obstacle to electrification in Africa is not constructing power stations and building overhead power lines. It is working out how to help the region’s households – many with limited and irregular cash flows, little collateral and no access to credit – to pay for the huge investment needed to bring electricity to them.

Economic exclusion  
In March, an official from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that ‘Over a year, a refrigerator uses six times more electricity than a Tanzanian citizen, and it would take an Ethiopian citizen two years to consume the amount of electricity that an American does in three days.”

He added: ‘Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) generates 28 gigawatts of power for more than 900 million people – about the same as Argentina generates for 42 million people. And on any given day, a quarter of that energy is unavailable due to inefficient outdated infrastructure.”

No electricity means no development. “Without electricity they (the rural population) have no lights, and their children must do their homework under dangerous paraffin lamps. Using a computer for schoolwork or anything else is impossible,’ Symbion, an independent power producer, told the committee.

There is no refrigeration to preserve food and cooking is done on wood- or dung-burning stoves that cause deforestation, greenhouse emissions, and toxic fumes that are responsible for an estimated 2 million premature deaths a year.

– fin24

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