In photography, light is everything. Without it, even the most stunning subjects can look hollow and lifeless. Light adds drama and mystery to an image. Gives it life. People are drawn to light. Mesmerized by it.
Africa has some of the most spectacular light imaginable. The way the sun washes over the plains of the Masai Mara or skims over the golden sands of the Namib desert, will make your heart ache.
But electricity is a completely different matter. For too many Africans, electricity is impossible to come by, and that’s why I wanted to take part in ONE’s #LightforLight blog relay to bring attention to its #ElectrifyAfrica Act that has been reintroduced into the House.
The bill seeks to provide electricity to 50 million Africans by 2030, at no cost to U.S. taxpayers. Imagine that.
The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 would prioritize and coordinate U.S. government resources in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 to:
- Promote first-time access to electricity for at least 50 million people, particularly the poor.
- Encourage the installation of at least an additional 20,000 megawatts of electrical power in both rural and urban areas using a broad mix of energy options.
- Encourage in-country reforms to facilitate public-private partnerships and increase transparency in power production, distribution, and pricing.
- Promote efficient institutional platforms that provide electrical service to rural and underserved areas.
We need your help to let our leaders in Congress know they should support it.
Here’s why it’s so important
Seven out of 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa — that’s nearly 600 million people — do not have basic access to electricity. Endemic power shortages for people at all economic levels are a way of life for 30 African countries.
Without electricity, the domino effect is extreme and in many cases has a greater negative impact on women and girls.
- Poor healthcare: Thirty percent of health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa lack electricity, making it impossible to store vaccines and lifesaving drugs, or operate essential medical equipment like incubators and x-ray machines.
- Stifled economic growth: According to survey data of African businesses, reliable energy access is a bigger concern than corruption, lack of access to capital, or sufficiently trained labor.
- Toxic fumes: Each year, more than three million people worldwide die from exposure to the toxic smoke of indoor open fires and kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting — more than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.
- Limited or no education: Ninety million children in sub-Saharan Africa attend schools that lack electricity. In many places, women and girls are forced to spend hours during the school day hunting for fuel.
- Lack of safety: Without streetlights, telephones, or other means of communication, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence after dark.
If you need another reason, do it for yourself.
I think author, Mary Anne Radmacher said it best, “As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.”
To lend a hand, all you have to do is fill out the simple petition form HERE.
If you want to go above and beyond, please spread the word.
This article is the last in a 31-day blog relay. If you’d like to see all of the wonderful posts that have gone up in July in support #ElectrifyAfrica, you can find that here.