Millions of families across sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity.
Improving economic opportunities to families living in many African nations is a significant challenge. However, more developed nations are looking to invest in African countries than in the past, as the potential gains are more readily identifiable and the results of previous investments are beginning to be seen. According to Elizabeth Littlefield, president and CEO of the United States Overseas Private Investment Corp., the United States is set to boost both private and public sector financing to promote economic growth in West Africa.
Manufacturing, telecommunications, retail and other industries are thriving in parts of West Africa, but infrastructural shortcomings and other challenges keep some progress at bay. In a guest column for AllAfrica News, Littlefield outlines some of the struggles faced by West African countries that are hindering their economic development.
"How can Africa fully compete when countless factories and computers go dark during rolling blackouts?" Littlefield wrote. "How can it compete in an era of non-stop, round-the-clock communication when millions go home to candles or lanterns? Education is stunted. Health care suffers. Africa's power deficit is so pervasive that it shaves an estimated 2 percent off the continent's gross domestic product each year."
According to the United States Agency for International Development, approximately 69 percent of people living in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. In rural areas, this figure rises to 85 percent. This urgent need is the driving force behind the government's Power Africa initiative, a project to expand electricity to homes, schools, hospitals and businesses across Africa's poorest countries.
Expanding access to electricity is only part of Power Africa's objective. Many African nations have significant potential for the development of alternative sources of power, such as hydroelectric, wind and solar, and the program aims to invest additional funds to enable regional governments to explore these possibilities and provide power to families.
Greater investment in Africa holds positive outcomes, and you can help too. ChildFund works in several African nations, and by sponsoring a child, you can help us provide a boy or girl with the nutritious food, clean drinking water and lifesaving health care he or she needs to survive. Alternatively, becoming a monthly giving partner allows us to help children and their families where the need is greatest. Together, we can fight child poverty and bring hope to families around the world.