Is Rural Electrification a waste of time?

Boitumelo Sehlake/ May 20, 2019/ Energy Education/ 0 comments

Is rural electrification a waste of time? This is a question that was raised at the African Utility Week Conference 2019 in one of the panel discussions for Future Cities. I have been pondering on this for days now and here are my thoughts:

Access to energy/electricity remains a challenge in Africa, we all need electricity to cook, build healthy and safe families and communities, having clinics and schools that have electricity. We see more and more people migrating to cities for better opportunities and access to sustainable and secure electricity, although maybe not affordable but at least it is accessible. Cities are getting over populated and existing infrastructure cannot handle this access population. This is seen in South Africa-Johannesburg , Nigeria-Lagos, etc., where more skyscrapers are being built , more office spaces resulting in more people working in the city and living there.

Electrifying rural communities is important not only for providing lights and energy for cooking and making a better living, it is vital for job creation and infrastructure development. Young people don’t need to relocate to major cities for employment , they don’t have to leave their support system (parents and grandparents) behind.

A Mobisol illuminated house in Rwand,   (

I believe we underestimate the power of having a support structure, coming from a small town/township/rural communities and moving into a big city can eat you alive! We have professionals suffering and not coping because they had to leave their families behind to make a better living. We have to depend on strangers to help us raise our kids, keep a household together and the list goes on. Whereas, if your family is less than an hour away from you they can help share your load (they can babysit should you need to work late, or are stuck in traffic for example).

We have students not copying with university environment because they get moved from a support structure they’ve known for 18 years to zero! If there were universities nearby this could be a totally different situation.

This can change with rural areas being electrified, this will lead to job creation through infrastructure development , companies opening up branches there, malls being opened, schools etc., to serve people in the communities and create jobs.

Renewable energy can help accelerate this process where infrastructure development seem impossible or more costly. What I’m trying to highlight here is that there is no excuse not to provide electricity to all, this has become a basic human need.

Mobisol illuminated tailor shop  ()

Rural electrification should be a number one priority , investment needs to go here instead of investing in fancy property developments in cities because of an increase in population.

Expensive properties that still cannot be accessed by the very same people who are flooding the cities for employment to better their future.

Should we not focus on how to reduce the influx of people to cities and ensure every township and rural communities are self sufficient?

Rural Electrification is NOT a waste of time, it is a must.

What are your thoughts on this topic and question? Do you think we are doing enough to provide electricity for all?

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