I don’t remember much of 2011. I randomly caught a very serious ear infection during my annual trek to SXSW in March… and poof! There is really nothing left from that year. I spent most of that time in the hospital, in doctor’s offices and frankly – just laying in my bed sleeping. I have a big window in our room and every morning I would open my eyes and stare out at the pinks of Denver morning, fall back asleep… and most days – watch the deep oranges of sunset from almost that exact spot.
Some days I made it outside to tinker with my poorly neglected garden. I distinctly remember just watching the sun, and light, and feeling very lucky.
It sounds dramatic when I talk about it, so I try to give the quick glossy version these days. But the truth is, I almost died, several times. The ear infection was so severe that I had regular checks to see if my skull had cracked. Two surgeries and one major hearing loss later, I am fine.
But what if I hadn’t had access to medical care? Both here in Denver and in Austin, I had the best of everything. “No. I don’t want the 32 slice CT scan. I want the 128 slice. Yes. Do it.” My doctors had everything they needed at their fingertips.
But what if they had no… electricity?
One talk that struck a cord with me when I attended the ONE Aya Summit last year was how many parts of Africa have no electricity. None. Zero.
Hospitals are running on generators, at best. A shocking seven in 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa (nearly 600 million people) do not have basic access to electricity. Even worse, 30% of health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa, which serve an estimated 255 million people, are without electricity.
The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 would prioritize and coordinate U.S. government resources in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 to:
- Promote first-time access to electricity for at least 50 million people, particularly the poor.
- Encourage the installation of at least an additional 20,000 megawatts of electrical power in both rural and urban areas using a broad mix of energy options.
- Encourage in-country reforms to facilitate public-private partnerships and increase transparency in power production, distribution, and pricing.
- Promote efficient institutional platforms that provide electrical service to rural and underserved areas.
Not only is this the right thing to do, this is the smart thing for us to do – for our planet *and* our budget. Africa has yet to harness the majority of its natural energy capacity, putting them in a position to do it right from the start. Also? The US Congressional Budget Office estimated that enactment of the legislation’s previous version would save $86 million from 2014-2017.
How can you help?
Read up on the issue. Spread the word.
Sign this petition to let our leaders know you support #ElectrityAfrica.