Originally posted in CNN Business:
It’s no surprise that economies around the world need electricity for economic growth and job creation — not just for keeping the lights on. But Liberia, a West African nation of 4 million people, has installed electricity of just 126 megawatts. That’s less for the whole country than the average capacity of just one of the more than 8,000 power plants in the United States. If this isn’t bad enough, Liberians pay more than three times the average rate for electricity than Americans. This lack of affordable energy dooms the country to poverty and unemployment.
Liberia is not alone. Ghana’s aluminum industry, which had been the linchpin in the country’s industrial strategy since the 1960s, has been running at a fraction of its capacity for more than a decade because of electricity shortages. The lost output from the plant (which turns alumina into aluminum) has killed tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. Every sizable business in Nigeria, Africa’s largest market, is forced to rely on dirty and expensive diesel generators. In fact, systemic power problems are chronic across Africa: Nearly every economy on the continent is constrained by energy gaps and high costs.
This shocking situation demands that we ask: What will it take for Africans to enjoy energy in the same way as others around the world? And, more importantly, when we help the continent build its future energy systems, are we planning for poverty — or for economic transformation?
Read the full article on CNN here.