On a visit to South Africa this year I asked a charity project worker whether he was involved in any renewable or decentralised energy projects. He responded by saying that renewable energy is not a priority and is a matter for the government. Food, education, and, going by our tour of projects he was involved in … dance lessons are priority.
This comment struck me as odd given the huge number of people living in the townships risking their lives by illegally hooking up to the electricity network and those struggling to find ways to cook food. The situation in rural areas is in many places much worse with little, if any access to electricity.
I was left pondering perceptions of renewable and decentralised energy. Many clearly believe that green energy is something for the wealthy – something to spend your money on when you have nothing else to spend it on. The reality of course is that the people whom effective renewable and decentralised energy would help the most are those in extreme fuel poverty – in Africa and in the UK.
With nearly 1 billion people, Africa accounts for a sixth of the world’s population, but generates only 4% of global electricity.
There are however organisations trying to change these perceptions and give practical help. The work of charity AfricaConnect is to promote the economic security and social well-being of Africa’s people through ensuring that they have access to adequate energy services. They believe that economic self-sufficiency and the eradication of poverty, hunger and disease are unattainable without the provision of a modern energy infrastructure that will provide affordable, reliable and, where possible, clean power supplies to all sectors of the community.
AfricaConnect proposes to direct attention on the electricity deficiency in Africa by nominating 2010 as ‘The Year of Electrifying Africa‘. The Electrify Africa campaign aims to help countries that need special assistance in meeting their power requirements.
If you have any information on specific villages and towns in sub-Saharan Africa, which are in need of electrification, get in touch with AfricaConnect. Clearly helping to make some of the world’s poorest places energy self sufficient will make a huge difference to their inhabitants lives.