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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Living in the dark, the politics of electricity in Africa

Politics of electricity

Politics of electricity
November 2012-2015 fighting between militia groups in Africa meant no electricity for 3 years.

Living in the dark, the politics of electricity in Africa

Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture



The Fight to Control the eastern Mali town of Menaka Electricity



Internal conflict between pro-government militias and rebels claiming a Tuareg homeland from the Northern desert town of Kidal, MNLA (Movement for the National Liberation of Azawad), left the town of Menaka in northern Mali occupied by a succession of rebel groups for three years.

It also left them without electricity; Menaka was the last stronghold under MNLA control. The large population of ethnic Songhai in Gao, the regional capital and the north’s biggest city, who do not necessarily agree with the ambitions of the mainly Tuareg population in the key northern town of Kidal, who want the northern territory they call Azawad recognized as an independent state.

The groups targeted the electrical grid early on during the occupation. Vendors lost the ability to keep goods cold, homes could not access critical information about the conflict and peace process via television, and most troubling the Menaka hospital was unable to operate lifesaving electrical equipment.

Menaka in northern Mali

Former Tuareg rebels operating in northern Mali took control of the key town of Menaka


“While the rebels issue passports and collects taxes in the Republic of Azawad, this is still Malian territory,” said Hamadou Ag Kaoussane, the mayor of N’Tilit, a local community south of Gao. Many analysts believe the battles between rival armed Tuareg groups and their allies in northern Mali are motivated largely by economic disputes over territory and trade routes.

Under a peace agreement in June 2015, all armed groups left Menaka in the hands of U.N. peacekeepers and Malian authorities. However, the population of 20,000 was left with degraded public infrastructure including the destruction of the electrical grid. In November 2015, less than three months after work began, the electrical network of Menaka was fully restored by USAID.

Today, tentatively, a little over 7,000 subscribers directly access the electrical grid, as well as the public hospital. Community members who were not paying customers of the electrical utility benefited from access to cold goods, neighborhood TVs, and improved health care at the hospital.

Did you Know?
Bamako is the capital and largest city of Mali.

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