Recently, Zimbabwe’s power stations have suffered from a plunge in electricity generation from a daily demand of 2,000 megawatts (MW) to merely 958 MW. This drop is reflective of much deeper problems rooted in the country. A recent drop in the water levels of the Kariba Dam has caused Zimbabwe and Zambia to now only receive 474 MW instead of the 750 MW that they got previously. Many of these issues are due to the fact that many of the main power plants around the region are in need of immediate repair. The country is in a serious crisis. The power that the stations produce is not just critical for household lighting and consumption, but also to keep the country’s economy in tact.
Liberia’s Senate has recently passed into law the 2015 Electricity Law by unanimous vote this last Thursday. In June 2015, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, submitted to the Legislature a bill entitled 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia and a civil society electricity advocacy group forwarded a similar bill for consideration at that time. On August 26, 2015, a public hearing was held concerning the proposed bill by a joint senate committee made up of the committees on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment and others.
Now that the law has passed, it will aim to liberalize the electricity sector in order to drive the competition which could lead to better access, quality, and lower cost. It also looks to establish legal and regulatory framework for the transmission, distribution, and retail sale of electricity which will hopefully create an enabling environment for investment in the private energy sector in Liberia.
The Chinese government has recently funded the drilling of 58 boreholes in Rwanda that are now benefiting 7700 households in the northern parts of the country. During the launch, Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda, Shen Yongxiang, stated, "Sometimes we call water the source of life. This source of water will be the source of our friendship and this friendship will develop further and further." In addition, 22 local technicians were trained in how to operate and look after the boreholes. The boreholes were created after the discovery of a large amount of underground water in the northern and western provinces of Rwanda.
As the population of the world is continuing to increase, forest land decreases as many of these populations convert the forest land to agriculture and other uses. However, the rate of net global deforestation has significantly slowed down over the last 25 years. A report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations claims this decrease has been as much as 50%.
The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 from FAO shows that a large amount of forest areas are now under protection as countries improve forest management through legislation that includes the monitoring of forest resources and involving the local communities in developing policies. The FAO Director-General affirmed the positive effect of this change but claims we need to do better, adding, “We will not succeed in reducing the impact of climate change and promoting sustainable development if we do not preserve our forests sustainably use the many resources they offer us.”
United States organizations have recently given a $1.1 million grant to the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia in order to help expand the use of clean and renewable energy throughout East Africa.11 companies in these countries will each receive $100,000 grants to expand their renewable energy projects in the region. The initiative has been called Off-Grid Energy Challenge in an attempt to spread renewable energy to places that are typically more rural and do not have access to sustainable forms of energy. It is part of the Beyond the Grid Initiative funded by General Electric Africa. In addition to this, a $5 million three-year Challenge Award will be granted to more than 50 companies on the continent for similar purposes.
It was recently announced by the World Bank that the Kenyan national energy utility has officially connected 150,000 households in the countries urban slums to the electricity grid. Before May 2014, this number used to be a mere 5,000. This huge improvement is largely due to attempts to subsidize families’ grid connection fees which can often reach as much as $400 per family. The NGO, Innovations for Poverty Action, is currently trialing this subsidy technique throughout the rural parts of Western Kenya.
Bringing electricity to the rural slums creates a clear improvement for the everyday life of families living in poverty. Lighting is cheaper and safer, communications are greatly improved through the ability to charge mobile phones, and radio and TV allow them to be better connected to the outside world.