Without proper provision of modern energy and electricity, there is no support for socio-economic improvement of living conditions in rural areas in developing countries. Energy is the driving force for any society that wishes to develop and exploit its potential resources. Unfortunately, many African countries are still unable to provide rural areas with reliable electricity supply.
In African countries like Cameroon (at least, a case I better know of), electricity supply has in the past, moved from worse to worst. This has most often prevented, or rather slowed down the economic development of the country. Had there been reliable energy supply in the nation, a whole lot of projects could have been achieved.
Urban areas in most African countries, if not all, are well electrified whereas rural areas suffer the overall burdens of living in an energy-void era. Due to the low rate at which rural areas get connected to energy supplies, some of their projects requiring power use never see the light of day.
For instance, if the government plans to introduce IT training to rural areas, this plan remains futile until the area is properly electrified to be able to power the computers and related devices that will be used.
Statistics indicate that from the over 1.4 billion people living without electricity, about 85% of them come from rural areas and about 1 billion people have no reliable power supply with most of them living in remote areas in developing countries.
In a bid to improve and bring rural areas out of the dark ages of limited power supply, Togo’s President, Faure Gnassingbé has set out to utilize the benefits technology brings to improve on the country’s rural electrification state. President Faure Gnassingbe announced on June 23, a program (the CIZO initiative) that will enable two million Togolese rural inhabitants to access from solar and connected objects by 2022.
If realized, the project will enable the government to increase rural electrification from 7% to 40% by the year 2022. The solar kit as announced, will be equipped with state of the art technology that will allow the authorities to monitor consumption rate from a distance. Inhabitants will be expected to pay FCFA 100 or FCFA 300 monthly as the case may be in order to access the power kits.
Solar energy has in recent years, proven to be a force to be reckoned with as it can be accessed from anywhere and anytime. It is one of the most reliable energy sources in the world today, reason why many governments and companies have adopted its wide use.
For the project to come to pass, the government intends to make an extensive use of mobile payments in rural areas and consequently, financial inclusion of rural populations,” according to a government statement.
The pilot phase of the program which is expected to bring power to around 20,000 households, will be completed by the end of this year. Overall, the government hopes that the program will reach 300,000 households in the next 5 years with a total cost of about FCFA 69 billion.
While the government intends to provide FCFA 8.7 billion of the funding, the remaining FCFA 60 billion will be secured from private investors. The solar kits will as well be made available and distributed by private companies.
According to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Togo is currently being provided with power by thermal plants and some hydro-power. The country, however, has good potentials of renewable energy resources.
President Faure’s decision to take electricity to the country’s rural areas that have long been deprived of this resource will hit a milestone by 2022 and see more socio-economic developments come to such areas.