Energy In Africa: A Ground Floor View Of The Crisis In Tanzania

Written by Kevin Mwanza

Africa has had a long standing energy crisis and it one of the least connected region in the world. Although this is changing slowly with the advent of renewable energy sources like solar that has connected many people living off-the grid, the challenge of over reliance on hydro-power electricity is still at large.

It’s estimated that some 600 million people across sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to reliable energy.

Ghanaian President John Mahama has been nicknamed Mr. Dumsor after the popular word for power outages. Lack of rain has forced the Tanzanian government to shut down hydropower plants, which generate 35 percent of the country’s electricity.

From Nigeria to Kenya and beyond, basic activities, such as studying and conducting business, often happen in the dark. Vital services – from delivering babies to caring for the sick – occur in dimly lit rooms.

The paradox is that Africa is home to the world’s fastest growing middle classes and that technology has played a large part in this growth. Cell phone use in particular has exploded. In 2002, only eight percent of Ghanaians said they owned a cell phone; today more than 8o percent use a mobile.

Everything from basic communication to mobile banking is done using the cell phone. However, the infrastructure needed to simply charge these phones and to empower sub-Saharan Africa in general, just doesn’t exist, leaving hundreds of millions of people in the dark.