By Khaled Fawal
Within all wealthy nations around the globe, governments and social activists are focused more than ever on what is perceived to be an ever-growing energy crisis. The glaring depletion of resources, the rise of oil prices on a global scale and the pressing need to address rapid climate change have suddenly made energy the central dilemma of our generation. The real energy crisis, however, lies well beyond the skyscrapers and the eternal traffic congestions.
Billions of men, women and children around the world are condemned to live in poverty with virtually no access to modern energy services. With the simple flip of a switch, an American or Frenchman can dazzle the mind of a young boy in Kenya. Indeed, around 1.6 billion of those in third world countries live without the grace of electricity. That means nights in complete darkness, very limited access to modern communications, inefficient educational institutions, and substandard health facilities. These are, in our eyes, perceived as essential to social and economic growth. Yet, all these things we take for granted are well and truly absent from their everyday lives.
These men and women are also forced to rely on polluted and harmful substances to meet the most basic of their needs. They cook food for themselves and for their children with biomass. Let that sink in for a minute. Institutions, foundations and governments around the world recognize the numerous basic rights of a human being. From the right to water to the right to gain a living, they are all essential. In 2014, that basic standard of living is still not provided to these people, simply because they are not equipped with energy.
As we all know, most African countries were colonized by European heavyweights in the not too distant past. It seems as though, however, that armies were simply replaced with corporations. Because the majority of the population has no capital or influence, private energy companies refuse to lend a hand. If poverty is to be eradicated, foundations and governments must implement an efficient system that would facilitate access to energy for these people.
With the rise of capitalism, energy is now not only a privilege, but a necessity. Access to it must become a right in itself.