BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Burkina Faso is located in West Africa and has a population of at least 20 million. Less than one-third of its citizens have access to electricity. However, the country has worked to improve this level of access through different government and private sector initatives. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 7 aims to provide global access to sustainable and modern energy. Currently, Burkina Faso is making improvements to increase accessible electricity in order to achieve its SDG 7 goals.
Lack of Access to Electricity
Lack of electricity disproportionately impacts impoverished populations in Burkina Faso. As of May 2021, USAID-supported figures show the current electricity access rate as 20% for Burkina Faso. Notably, the urban access rate has jumped to 64% while the rural access rate has increased only to less than 5%. Expensive electricity costs in Burkina Faso, relative to the region, have led to these low percentages. Uneven access further compounds poverty-related factors, inhibiting development from reaching its maximum potential. This is even more critical in Burkina Faso as 40.1% of the nation lives below the poverty line.
Diverting Income to Other Resources
Citizens of Burkina Faso would benefit from accessible electricity, particularly impoverished citizens. Electricity is important for societies and economies to develop. Basic lighting can make up a sizable portion of a rural household’s monthly budget. Without consistent light, expenses in the form of candles, flashlights, or other light alternatives can quickly add up. This money could be otherwise diverted to other essential expenses, like food or education. Research by SolarAid, an international charity that focuses on poverty reduction and energy, suggests that about 10% of a family’s income could be saved if the family had access to a consistent, efficient light source. SDG Goal 7 recognizes the important role that electricity can have in impoverished communities. In fact, all 17 goals aim to reduce poverty rates and address global issues by 2030.
The National Plan for Economic and Social Development combats this issue. This government plan seeks to encourage private-sector investments and increase liberation for electricity generation and distribution. By 2025, the country seeks to lower the cost of energy, increase the electricity access to 95% and increase the capacity to 2000 megawatts, according to a 2018 USAID report. Although Burkina Faso hasn’t reached 80% access to electricity in 2021, this plan will continue to bring the country closer to both its national goal and the SDG 7 goal.
A New Solar Project
Furthermore, Burkina Faso has an emerging solar project that will begin development in 2021. This project is one of the country’s first green energy plants. The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund aided in the funding for the 30 MW solar plant, which, once constructed in the country, will make Burkina Faso less reliant on “electricity imports.” The electricity generated from this solar plant will go to the national power unit, La Société National D’électricité Du Burkina Faso. Recent gross domestic product growth and structural changes will help Burkina Faso’s new solar project accomplish its National Plan for Economic and Social Development. Furthermore, the investment has been hailed as an example of the country’s success with private partnership for infrusture goals.
A nonprofit organization called Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) is also working toward SDG Goal 7 in Burkina Faso. This nonprofit works with the government, the private sector and civil society. Its main goal is for African countries to accomplish the aims of SDG 7. SEA seeks to take this goal one step further by doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency globally. Burkina Faso stands to benefit from SEA’s development of off-grid systems, regional power pools and SDG-oriented financial tools. Further action plans from the organization prioritize energy efficiency, charcoal regulation, energy interconnectedness with broader systems and voltage optimization.
Although access to electricity in Burkina Faso disproportionately hinders impoverished populations, private and state policies have increasingly targeted these issues. With electricity slowly lighting up the nation, Burkina Faso continues to meet higher goals and ambitions in its efforts to bring power to all.
– Mia Banuelos