Signs of modernity are numerous but the most pertinent sign is access to electricity. Therefore, many countries in the world are in a feverish race to that basic element of modern life. It is true that many take electricity for granted but many others consider access to electric power a breeze of modernity and a new asset that could change their lives.
As a case study, we are going to discuss sub-Saharan countries of Africa’s issues concerning access to electric energy. The sections of analysis in this article will involve three major parts. First, data of the current situation, lack of electricity and its impact of health facilities and the role of foreign investments in the arena.
Even though the situation of sub-Saharan Africa have progressed since the nineties, the problem of electricity shortage still existing. The issue touches upon very sensitive aspects of life. It is not only an exhausting problem households suffer from; we are rather talking about serious problem that affects in daily bases, hospitals, schools, clinics and every other facility.
According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa comprises 48 country, which are mostly located or composed of Sahara. For instance, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Somalia, Kenya, Togo and others are considered sub- Saharan countries. In 2016, the population of the arena reached 995,694,907 citizen. Subsequently, the same source offers data, which states that only 40 per cent of this huge number has access to electricity. Of course, the repartition of the percentage varies, for example in rural arenas the percentages is only 25 per cent or less. In fact, sub- Saharan African countries rate of domestic electricity access is considered the lowest in the global spectrum. Reasons behind these issues is not only lack of financial assets, it is also related to civil wars, corruption, political and social unrests, racial and tribal conflicts, etc.
The situation in the 48 countries mentioned above is variable. For instance, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo suffer severe lack of electricity. These countries’ access to electric power ranges from 8 per cent to 17 per cent only. In comparison to Cabo Verde, Gabon and Mauritius, which reached 90 per cent access to electricity.
Taking 11 sub- Saharan African country as a sample of study, a researcher named Adair Rohani has concluded that only 28 per cent of these countries have regular electric power, and that 26 per cent have no electricity at all. What is interesting is that the study is done on health care facilities such as hospitals, clinics and other health facilities.
The repercussions of electricity shortage of health sector and facilities:
The pace of progression of urbanization and electrical access is not rapid it is rather slow. However, the population growth is in a faster pace. This disproportion of large needs of an increasing population and a slow pace of development is paralyzing the whole region. The paralysis is economic, social and educational.
In arenas as such, development is a necessity otherwise, people are going to suffer from diseases, famines and extreme poverty. High rate of mortality is an unescapable result. Thus, the risks of human losses are high and inevitable. If we know that lack of electricity in hospitals for instance results in a loss in the supply of vaccinations we would conclude that children health is at stake too. Without refrigerators to conserve the vaccinations and professional stove to pasteurize them, the medications are ruined.
Besides, 70 per cent of medical equipment are not functioning, as they need electric power. Therefore, sub- Saharan African population is critically endangered.
Furthermore, without electric power no improvement in trades or industrial advancement, productivity or technological progress are going to occur.
Another considerable element is high rate of criminality in the sub- Saharan arena. To mitigate the rate of criminality, access to electricity is indispensable. To be more precise, over nights of darkness, high rate of crimes happens. In addition, the absence of electronic devices such as surveillance cameras and outdoor smart lighting, crimes are so easy to take place.
According to reliable resources, sub-Saharan Africa needs more than 49 billion dollar of side financing each year to overcome this dilemma. Thus, states need to implement cooperation with electrical equipment manufacturers, power generation suppliers and T&D companies. In addition, another key factor, which can play a major role within this scene, is renewable energy companies.
The role of foreign investments and renewable energy:
Firstly, it is important to mention that in sub- Saharan Africa the sector of energy is ruled by governments. The majority of these states lack of suitable financial and economic assets to build and maintain a strong and reliable infrastructure. Thus, as a major step, these countries have to draw a strategy of privatization of some aspects of the sector. Then, comes the role of foreign investments as an alternative.
In the case of sub- Saharan African countries, the Chinese presence is tremendously noticeable.
Sino- African relations are not limited to one sector of investment; it is circling over three major fields. The Chinese construction companies are the leaders in Africa when it comes to infrastructure implementation sector. Moreover, the Chinese are leading the banking sector. Lately, they also dominated the energy sector with its related fields. To highlight, the Chinese are predominantly the major actors of solar energy sector.
More details that are extremely important highlight more this large expansion. The data uncovers that in a period of 5 years between 2000 and 2005, the Dragons were holding 30 per cent of the projects of power generation in the entire area. As a future strategy, China is going to undertake 200 project of energy infrastructure implementation. Thus, installing a total capacity of 17 gigawatts.