This continuous energy supplies, sub-Saharan Africa’s economies could be

            This article discusses the
development of renewable energy in Africa. Beginning with a vivid description
of just how dark Africa looks at night, it launches into examples of how the
majority of Africa doesn’t have power. A shocking number from the very
beginning is that ‘two thirds of Africans have no access to reliable
electricity.’ The article then goes into some of the unreliable forms of
electricity that pervade poor countries and how the costly effects of this
norm. First of all, not having power hinders just about every aspect of life
for these people. Everything from their economy to their health is held back by
the inability to do basic tasks, like cooling vaccines. Another incredible
number mentioned is 36,000 women die during pregnancy in Nigeria! One can only
imagine how reliable power could reduce that number. Secondly, even the places
in Africa with electricity often experience frequent blackouts. The people in
Ghana call them dumsor, meaning “off and on.” Because these blackouts are
estimated to cost small firms in Ghana almost half of their revenue and costing
the economy about 2% GDP, the potential for economic growth is huge. In fact,
“The World Bank reckons that if they had continuous energy supplies,
sub-Saharan Africa’s economies could be growing by two percentage points
faster, on average, then they do now,” to quote the article directly.

            It’s obvious that Africa needs more
power, which they are working on with increasingly more eco-friendly forms of
renewable energy like hydropower and wind turbines. However, the problem
actually lies in how expensive it is to expand the electricity grid! Luckily,
innovative companies are finding their market in rural African communities and
selling them mini rooftop solar installations. These installations use a solar
panel and battery to charge a few lights, a radio, and a phone charger. They’ve
also adopted payment plans via phone companies to disperse the upfront cost.
The adoption of such a system is spreading quickly as they are becoming cheaper
and cheaper in price. However, they only provide a small amount of power, so
they are not an ideal solution. Another option is solar “minigrids” that can
power whole villages. While they do have higher upfront costs, many
organizations are trying to find ways to disperse the expense. While there
isn’t much data, it does show that the installations of a minigrid increases
sales and incomes in the local area significantly. Not only this, but
supporting industries spring up to supply this economic development. Minigrids
could be the first step towards a more advanced standard of living in Africa if
they could just figure out the funding logistics.

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            This article absolutely enlightened
me on two things; the extent in which Africa is still undeveloped and the
turning prices of renewable energy. I don’t know why but for some reason I
thought renewable energy sources were relatively expensive to implement but
after finding out just how poor
Africa really is, (in that they don’t even have power in most clinics!)
accompanied with their adoption of eco-friendly electricity, I’m feeling
incredibly optimistic about the future of our planet. I found some of the
statistics in this article incredibly shocking as I somehow thought Africa was
poor but at least mostly urbanized and achieving some level of technological
development but to find that most of them don’t even have electricity! Wow, I
clearly overestimated. However, if they’re really doing that poorly and still finding ways to reduce their
carbon footprint as they move forward in the world of electricity, I can’t help
but to be proud of them. If Africa can do it, we all can!