The project Akon Lighting Africa: A Step Further Towards Sustainable Development

The African energy deficit:

Facts concerning electrification system in Africa:

Despite its richness, the African countries still suffer from lack of basic daily life necessities. Energies such as electricity and clean water are rare and unfound in some areas. Let us speak numbers; precisely 621 million inhabitant of the African continent does not have access to electric power! Some countries like Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Malawi and Sierra Leone have a rate of less than two inhabitant out of ten has electric energy.

If we compare the consumption of electricity of an American and a Tanzanian during one single month, we will find that one month of energy consumption of an American person is equivalent to eight years of energy consumption of a Tanzanian person. That is an astonishing fact and an alarm that there is a serious deficit of energy in Africa.

The problematic behind the project Akon Lighting Africa

This slow pace of energy development in Africa is critical. If we follow on the same pace, it is only in 2080 that we are going to reach satisfying electrical access in Africa. Moreover, the growing population and the growing phenomena of urbanization would certainly bring more energy needs and consumption.

The few coming decades would contribute more GDP growth so as a result would drive more energy demand of almost 2.3%. Talking numbers, by 2014 the number of inhabitants of Sub-Sharan Africa is estimated to reach more of 755 million.

All of these reasons and facts made it a necessity to move together: governments of African countries, civil society, companies and even artists to make a change.

The project Akon Lighting Africa

tendering procurement process

Context and details of the project:

Akon Lighting Africa (ALA) is a short term and long-term project. The main objective of the project is to lighten up to one million house. The program of the project started at 2014 with planning and fundraising. The idea of ALA was an urgent answer to the lack of electrical accessibility in Africa. It targeted about 14 country among them Mali, the Republic of Guinea, Benin, Senegal, Niger, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Madagascar and Namibia.

As its name clarifies, the famous singer Akon was the one who launched the initiative in February 2014 together with an enthusiastic investor called Samba Bathily. The electrification plan was principally based upon renewables, more precisely solar energy. They raised funds of about 1 billion USD of charity for this huge project. About 100,000 solar street lamps were installed.  1,200 solar micro-grids plus 102,000 solar domestic kits were established to provide self-satisfaction of electric power to thousands of inhabitant in remote areas. Thus, about 75,000$ on average was spent per village. As an indirect objective more than 5,500 indirect job (of installation and reconstruction) was created. 

Aims and obstacles:

Besides the electrification of 14 countries, the project is a symbol of union and strength. It gathered many society figures, artists, civil activists, government officials and Africans together. The vision was to afford clean and cheap energy to the maximum number of households in Africa, which used to live in darkness.

The initiative encouraged also renewable energy usage and installation. Indeed, these 100,000 street poles, which were installed by 2017, were totally empowered by photovoltaic panels instead of nonrenewable sources. Development needs certainly funds and ambitions but most importantly, it needs a real political and societal will to change. The real change is in mentalities and then in culture.

The African countries are extremely exhausted by civil war and post colonization crises and high rate of criminality, so, change is sometimes very difficult. However, there was an ability to adopt to these conditions and a strong political will to cooperate. Furthermore, the help of electrical equipment companies and solar energy suppliers made the mission possible.

By lighting these streets and households, you enabled these inhabitants to study, to get more medical health, to grow their small businesses and mainly to feel secured. Before, they used to end any activity by sunset as everything was floating in darkness but now they are living normally under the light. Eventually, electricity is a tremendously important sector of energy no development or modern living can be done without it.

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