The latest edition of the BBC Focus on Africa magazine has a feature article about power supply problems across Africa, which takes a very thoughtful look at some of the issues currently affecting African countries' power grids.
Some interesting nuggets I didn't know before reading the article:
* Contrary to popular belief, Gambia isn't the only country plagued with power problems (in fact we're not even amongst the worst afflicted).
* South Africa generates nuclear power, and other countries (such as Ghana and Namibia) are considering it.
* The ever cynical-but-witty Nigerians have come up with various inventive meanings for the acronyms used by their power companies. ("Never Expect Power Always" for NEPA, the Nigerian Electric Power Authority, for example).
* There have been a number of attempts to create a combined African Power source, with countries that have a surplus supplying their less-fortunate counterparts, the most recent of which was initiated by NEPAD as a future project (The West African Power Pool).
* Whilst the average Guinean uses an annual amount of power equivalent to putting on an Air Conditioner for 4 minutes every day, Guinea Conakry has been hit so hard with power losses that students troop to the airport and shell stations every night, to sit under streetlights and study for their exams.
We have gone through our share of power problems, in the past, with the power company going through a number of name changes before it became the present NAWEC, each name change announced with new promises of better and constant power supplies, only to fail as spectacularly as the old-named company. Recently the Government privatized parts of the company, and the resultant increase in prices (by 30%) also resulted in a much improved supply. They still go off, every now and then, but nowhere near as much as they used to - in fact, the power staying on for days now has become the norm, and the power going off an aberration, which is the exact opposite of what it was like only a year ago. This is speaking for the urban areas, of course - there is still much of the country left to be electrified.