Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ligths Off Ghana

Below is a tidbit I wrote last night while the power was out, hopefully it will give you some insight into the energy issues as they exist here

There are two things in the world that I get excited about: water and energy. As a Canadian I have never had to worry about either with an over abundance of water to drink and power our country. Here in Ghana, these are daily concerns of mine. During the week the water at my house flows 3 days a week, making it necessary to stock pile water to bathe with, cook with and clean with. Similarly, cooking gas is in short supply and “lights off” are a common occurrence. In an equatorial country, where it is pitch black by 6:30pm, this means that many productive hours where people could be working and children studying are lost. I expected these issues to be prevalent in the North which is much dryer and a good 10-15C hotter but not in Accra, the capital, nestled along the coast of tropical, humid low lands.

Over the last few weeks I have been working on a research proposal that proposes to look at energy security in Africa with a focus on energy diversification for off-grid, remote production (sound familiar?). But the more time I spend in Ghana the more I think that this is not only an issue of rural development but of great importance to the entire country.

There is no easy solution to the issue of energy security in Ghana. With over 60% of the country’s energy coming from the Akosombo hydro dam, the country cannot invest quickly enough to keep up with the growing demands. Similarly the rising prices of oil are driving up food prices and have caused some of Ghana’s West African neighbors to increase public-servants salaries (Cameroon) and even reduce the size of parliament (Senegal).

I use to think that energy security concerns would peak in the next 20 years, but I am increasingly convinced, that unless fuel prices drop significantly, than developing countries will be hard hit within next few years. The question is now what can or should we do about it?

1 comment:

Isabel Brinck said...

Energy and water? So Bikram Dancing kind of covers that, doesn't it?
just kidding ;) This is interesting!