Rural Africa: Most Expensive Place On Earth To Charge A Phone

Rural Africa: Most Expensive Place On Earth To Charge A Phone

At the age of 15, Ghanaian entrepreneur Paul-Miki Akpablie developed a solar collector that was used to power community-center lights in Ghana. Then he developed Kadi, a business model to improve the lives of Ghana’s rural poor by providing environmentally friendly products and creating jobs.

Now he’s studying biochemistry and math at Colorado College, a private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, U.S. Akpablie is participating in the 2015 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University, underway at the University of Miami. CGI University convened more than 1000 student leaders to create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Akpablie talks about business opportunities in Africa, where some rural areas are the most expensive places on Earth to charge a phone.

From Fusion. By Paul-Miki Akpablie.

When American friends of mine say they’re interested in visiting rural sub-Saharan Africa, I tell them to consider Ghana, one of the most amazing nations in the world.

I also tell them to think twice about bringing a phone charger with them — there aren’t any power sockets in the walls. Of the approximately 600 million people living in the region, only about 14 percent have access to electricity, according to the World Bank.

It’s not that cell phones aren’t popular in rural sub-Saharan Africa – on the contrary, mobile penetration has exploded across the continent. But charging one? That will probably require a trip to a local shop, where customers are charged astronomical fees for use of a solar-powered kiosk.

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This situation would vex the average American on vacation, who normally wouldn’t think twice about plugging electronics into the wall at home. But for millions across Africa, wildly expensive energy is a part of everyday life.

…rural sub-Saharan African consumers, most of whom live on less than $1 a day, also face some of the highest energy fees in the world.

Not including transportation, charging a phone costs them at least 25 cents each time. Annually, this adds up to nearly 400 times what Americans pay.

So why do these populations pay more for the same amount of energy? Well, it’s not that they want to — it’s because they do not have a choice. People in the developed world have the resources to find the cheapest energy alternative for them, but this is not a luxury that is available for people in rural Ghana.

At this year’s Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting, student leaders and industry experts are coming together to discuss pressing global challenges like the future of energy. Partnering with the public and private sectors, young entrepreneurs around the world will work towards creating affordable, clean energy solutions…

Sub-Saharan Africa is ripe for investment. Economies are growing, and improved infrastructure is helping to connect all corners of the continent. Introducing long-lasting batteries to rural areas of Ghana proves that solutions to energy crises – whether local, like in the case of Ghanaian villages, or global – are ready to be discovered. And these impactful discoveries are sometimes made by everyday college students like me.

When friends ask me about Ghana, I will continue to say it’s one of the friendliest and most welcoming places in the world. My hope is to one day be able to say that it’s one of the most plugged in, too.

Read more at Fusion.