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Thursday, June 30, 2011

A gradual privatization of electricity

Since we arrived in Senegal five days ago, the electricity has been off more than it has been on, I believe throughout the country. Businesses to some extent can get along with their privately purchased generators. Of course, this is at a significant added expense. At our hotel, we had electricity but we were asked to turn off the air conditioner because the generator was being overtaxed. Apparently, the generator has no problem with outages of a few hours but outages of long duration may be beyond its capacity to endure and fully supply the needs of the hotel. I suspect this is true for other businesses as well-and so I was told. But those who have the means to purchase such machinery and fuel it do not include the common man and woman in the street nor many institutions such as schools and infirmaries. As for small business people such as tailors, woodworking tradesmen, iron workers and many others, they have no means to pursue their livelihoods.

It is one thing when electricity is cut off due to causes of nature beyond human control. Though severe, that kind of interruption is both understandable and of relatively short duration. What we have here is a system that simply is not working and has not been working over a long period of time. The last time we were in Senegal and the times before that, there were outages, but nothing like what we are experiencing now. A two or three hour interruption several times a week is bad enough; but now we are way beyond that level of inconvenience. We are into a really serious deterioration of the level of functioning in Senegal.

- Posted from my iPad


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