I first wrote about Electrify Africa in July of 2014. Yep, you read that right. A year and a half ago. And that certainly wasn't even at the beginning of the life of the bill, which started out with a self-dating name of "Electrify Africa Act of 2013." The bill took on the thorny problem of the lack of consistent electric power in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, 589 million people do not have access to electricity. In 20 African countries, endemic power shortages - at all economic levels - are a way of life. This lack impacts lives in profound ways with disproportionately negative effects on women and girls. For example:
- Poor healthcare: 30% of health facilities do not have electricity to store vaccines, operate medical equipment like incubators, or even provide consistent light during childbirth.
- Toxic fumes: Every year, over 3 million worldwide premature deaths occur from exposure to toxic smoke of indoor open fires and kerosene for cooking, heating, and lighting. That's more deaths than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.
- Limited or no education: 90 million kids in sub-Saharan Africa attend schools without electricity. In many places, women and girls must spend hours each day in the time-consuming task of gathering fuel, often a key reason why girls spend less time in school than boys.
- Lack of safety: Without streetlights, telephones, or other means of communication, women and girls are particularly vulnerable after dark.
Those initiatives and more will have the effect of preserving life and bringing economic growth to areas of Africa that desperately need it.
|St. Louis ONE volunteers with Senator|
McCaskill's district aide
So...everybody take a step back and let out a deep breath. Pour a beverage of your choice and toast yourself. Advocacy works! When it does, we need to celebrate it to fuel our souls for the next flight. But for today..."Cheers!" To me...to you...to all of those who will receive power and be empowered for years to come.
P.S. If you would like to see the C-SPAN clip of the bill passing, check out this link.