Imagine that on any day of the week, your electricity shutting off randomly
for minutes or hours at a time. Conducting
business would be frustrating and most certainly cause you lost income.
are told that your daily energy use is provably disrupting our ecosystem.
In both cases you would call your utility and politicians and demand answers.*
Life in Africa is changing. The leaders of NEPAD (New Partnership for
Africa's Development) have made energy infrastructure a priority. As stated
by NEPAD's industrial engineer, "Infrastructure development is
not merely about erecting giant structures, but providing vital services,
such as power to increase commerce, business productivity." This
will "enhance the lives of poor families by giving them affordable
energy for cooking, heating and lighting." Clean electricity
is the answer.
ECOWAS (Economic Cooperation of West African States) has signed agreements
among its 14 members to develop grid interconnections in the region. They
also recognize the enormous renewable energy potential of their region,
and have plans to develop these resources for both urban and rural markets.
One big hurdle is finance, as $12 billion are needed for new generation
capacity and transmission lines between markets and nations.
While Africa works hard to bring the first kilowatt to many villages,
the G8 nations continue to spew greenhouse gases at alarming rates. Some
scientists warn of a "climatic tipping point," where
the consequences are unstoppable and cascade further unforseen changes.
The solution? Develop local and remote renewable energy resources and
feed them into the grid. It's what Buckminster Fuller proposed in
1971, and this strategy is even more urgent today.