Light for Light: Electrify Africa

Light on Avocado

I feel blessed that my family has been able to grow what we eat, such as this avocado. The play of light on its skin and the leaves caught my eye while I hung laundry on the line. The sight of it reminded me that life on earth cannot exist without light. Plants wouldn’t be able to grow, which would mean an absence of most food sources and, most vital of all, oxygen.

We can’t live without oxygen. According to some sources, we can survive without food for roughly three weeks, and without water for three days. What would we do, though, if something cataclysmic happened, and life with electricity, as many of us know it, became a thing of the past?

Almost every area of our lives relies on using energy. Hospitals, restaurants, electronic security providers, gas stations, and airports are just a few places that need electricity to function. On a personal level, I relied on electricity to type this post on my laptop and access the Internet. While I did that, the electric fan kept me cool, because, since May, this season has been even hotter and drier than last year. Not to worry, though, for I had a glass of cold water on hand, thanks to my fridge, which also keeps my food safe and fresh. Later, when I went out, I didn’t have to worry about travelling in perpetual darkness, due to the availability of streetlights. Yes, I am blessed, and grateful.

For 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, though, my experience and yours, for those of you reading this post, are foreign to them. To get a glimpse of what their everyday life is like, ONE campaign provides a grim picture of life without electricity in that region.

  • Three out of 10 health facilities function without electricity. It means that the health of millions is at risk when medications become useless, because they cannot be stored at the right temperature, and medical equipment, for example, incubators, cannot be operated.
  • Millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa heat their homes with, and cook food on, open fires. Unfortunately, they die from exposure to toxic fumes, as a result. The death rate exceeds that for malaria and HIV/AIDS combined!
  • Children’s learning is at risk, because they attend schools that lack electricity. Moreover, how will they do their homework at night?
  • Travel becomes dangerous for pedestrians at nighttime, because there are no streetlights.

I cannot imagine living in those conditions every single day for years. So when I read Karen Walrond’s post on Electrify Africa, I got involved. You can help, too. By signing the petition, we are showing lawmakers the importance of passing the Electrify Africa bill, so that millions in sub-Saharan Africa can gain access to affordable and reliable energy for the very first time.

Another way to spread the word–and light–is by joining other writers, bloggers, and photographers in ONE’s July Light for Light campaign, and sharing your light-filled photos and words on social media, using the hashtags #ElectrifyAfrica and #Lightforlight.


Social media has been abuzz with activity where this desperately urgent issue is concerned. Let’s spread more light by getting involved and keeping the momentum going for the well-being of our African brothers and sisters.

Let’s make it a brighter day for them.

Light for light

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6 Comments on "Light for Light: Electrify Africa"

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Cara Siskova

In Ghana, we have DUMSOR aka load shedding, where the electricity is supposed to be off half the time or so. In reality it is off almost all the time. It can be very erratic, going off and on several times per day, with the on part considering less than the off…

Yes, it’s really absurd, especially in this day and age…

PS. You write beautifully!


That’s awful, especially where it would affect your appliances. I feel for you.

Thank you! 🙂


Nadine, thank you for your beautiful words and photos.


I appreciate that, Jeannine. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Tish Farrell

I just signed. It is absurd the lack of electricity in Africa when the continent must be one of the biggest sources of renewable energy on the planet. The hydro-power of the Congo River alone is phenomenal. Then there’s potential for wind and solar power. The provision of power is so often tied to political support – supporters get infrastructure, while others do not.


Thanks so much for signing, Tish.

You hit the nail on the head! I don’t understand why the region doesn’t have that kind of access. This is 2015! There’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be energized already.