That a couple of likely lads from Eritrea are bringing electrification to South Sudan strikes us as being a Good Thing. Certainly, it seems to be being done with rather less collateral damage than Lenin’s electrification of the Ukraine. But we’re also drawing attention to how it is technological advance which brings that newfound wealth:
“There has been a boom in solar over the last five years,” says Joyce Nkuyahaga, CEO of the Uganda Solar Energy Association. “At least 500,000 Ugandan households are now connected to solar.” The bulk of the connections come from pay-as-you-go home kits where customers pay around $10 upfront for a small solar panel, a few light bulbs, and a port to charge cellphones. They pay installments of around $10 until they pay off the system, which usually cost between $100 and $200.
It is indeed better to illuminate the night than it is to curse the darkness. Those illuminations meaning that children can do their homework, the charging port that markets can complete with information and thus economies grow.
Usually at this point we make some political or economic assertion. Today rather it’s to stand in awe at what’s happening. We’re in the middle of the greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species. And it’s exactly the things like this that are causing it. Uganda’s pretty close to where humans actually started, so it’s been inhabited essentially forever as far as we’re concerned. For the first time in all that history people are lighting the night with something other than a burning brand. Worth a moment of gape mouthed admiration at that, no?