Year-round in Ghana, the sun sets at 6pm and rises at 6am – thus, the residents of communities lacking electricity live half of their lives in the dark. Over ten years ago, the government of Ghana began a massive campaign to provide the country’s rural north with electricity, but the project ceased almost immediately after it began. The work sluggishly resumes during election years, as candidates attempt to garner popularity and votes. But at present, an estimated 73% of villages remain without electricity in the neglected north – an area comprising 40% of the country.
Living without lights is more than just a minor inconvenience. Electricity provides a paramount step on the ladder of economics, and northern villagers know what is being kept from them: lights to study and cook by, machinery and refrigeration, and a standard of living that would attract teachers, nurses, and other civil service workers from the city, not to mention foreign tourists. Potential economic growth is stifled and poverty’s cyclical nature is perpetuated.
That said, some forms of progress are inevitable, and a number of surprising modern amenities reveal themselves in the night. Mobile phones are widespread, and a growing local film industry allows northerners to see movies in a setting and language familiar to them for the first time in their history. All of this exists despite the absence of a convenient outlet in which to plug basic electronic appliances.