Effects of Electricity in Social Services (Schools and Health Centers) and Work and Possible ways we can Cope with it

adan — By Adan from Somalia

This project was completed as part of a special course on electricity in Africa, in collaboration with the Enel Foundation.

INTRODUCTION

Somalia, which lies the horn of Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is recovering from 26 years of civil wars which paralyzed the infrastructure of the country, including the energy sources. During the civil wars, the state-owned energy company ENEE (Ente Nazionale Energia Elettrica) and the national utility operating a national grid which was serving the cities of Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Berbera, Gardo, Erigavo, Merka, Bossasso, Burao, Kismayo, and Badoa shut  down and the Ministry of Electricity was inactive.

However, Somalia is currently enjoying a total privatization of electricity which has partially filled the role of the government, thought they cover the electricity needs of the major cities. Still, they are tackling unaffordable prices with less power to generate more energy. During this photo essay, I will interview representatives from the both private companies and the Ministry of Electricity and Water. Also, I will show how electricity in the country affected negatively the health, schools, and workplaces.

At the end of this study I will come up with some proposed solutions which will mitigate or stop the bad effects of the electricity on social services and workplaces by quoting different stakeholders in this issue.

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Here is a traffic street inside Mogadishu; the long wall is the center of ex-state owned energy company ENEE, which is currently repaired and resided by a private company called BECO (Banadir Electric Company). Inside the wall there is a motor which works 24 hours a day and generates power. Opposite the wall there is an hospital called Iqraa Medical and Surgery Hospital; in its door stands a young nursing boy as you can see from the picture. The patients, workers and administration have problems with the sound of the motor.

The hospital patients are also suffering from the sound of the cars and motorcycles which regularly use the street, as you can see from picture. The businesses near the motor face sound pollution from it as well.

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This is another picture that shows how electricity negatively affects social services and works. This building is an accommodation for the same company of BECO, a hospital called Lafweeyn, and a factory which processes fish. Though BECO uses this building only for office, still every day company workers with ladders, wires and other electricity tools come from the building which may affect the attached hospital and factory. Beside these social centers and works appeared in the picture there are other shops and pharmacies which reside here.

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This picture shows the WIIF Electricity and Water Supply Company motor which attaches to Anas Bin Malik Primary and Secondary school. This school has nearly 2,000 students in two shifts and the motor works all day by generating power and makes waste pollution to the nearby environment. The people who reside near this motor have difficulties communicating because of the heavy sound of the motor. Some people believe that schools and hospitals reside near the motors since the rent is too cheap because of the pollution, but those social centers ignore the interest and health of their customers, including patients and students.

These two attached pictures taken from two different angles show the same company, WIIF, which releases waste pollution to the nearby environment. The tubes are not controlled well so this company produces more supply of water and everyone who passes this street experiences a bad smell.

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I interviewed Engineer Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulle, the director of the renewable energy department of the Ministry of Electricity and Water. Abdulkadir, who was in his car while he was letting me interview him, answered many questions related to this topic; he told me that there are many environmental, social, and economic problems regarding electricity in Somalia including:

  • Very high dependence on unmanaged and unsustainable biomass energy (86% of Somali electricity is generated from biomass)
  • Threat to desertification
  • Health hazard to women and children
  • Too much time and energy spent to collect biomass
  • Inefficient traditional stoves, etc.
  • Rural poor unable to change their way of life due to lack of modern energy
  • Existing electricity tariffs do not cover costs. Cost of 1kW is 1USD
  • Lack of penetration by the private sector
  • Heavy dependence on imported oil
  • Roughly 90% of the Somali population has no access to electric power

He also told me that ENEE used to produce 170 MW – 190 MW, but current private companies only produce 30 to 40 MW. He added that Somalia is experiencing a low quality of distribution networks and that the ministry is planning to prepare regulations for the private electric companies.

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Engineer Abdurrahman Ibrahim Isse is a secretary in the engineering department of Mogadishu Power Supply Company. The first question I asked was if they have a bad affect on the social services and works and he said to me that before they rent a center they make sure that there are no social service centers nearby such as schools, MCHs, hospitals, etc. He also told me that they have social responsibility policies including free electricity to nearby houses and businesses, giving internships to the electrical engineering students, and low charges to the needy people.

He said to me that one of the electrical problems in Somalia is the high price of kilowatts and that they are planning to make Somali electricity as cheap as India and Sudan. He said that the cost of a kilowatt in India is just over 0.00 rupees which costs only $3.5 per month. Also, Sudan is enjoying $0.12 per kilowatt. He extended the problems which Somali industries inherited from high cost of electricity. As an example, he used an industry which produces pasta in Kuwait that spends $1800 only per month on electricity compared to a Somali industry which produces bread that has electricity costs of $50,000 per month.

He said to me that a Somali investor tried to establish an industry which makes ice cream and sweets. When the estimated cost of electricity became $25,000 per month, he decided not to do it.

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Abdifitah Elmi Osoble, is a branch manager at Blue Sky company for electricity. This company is one of two companies which have full social responsibility policies; they succeeded to make their motors out of the city. Also, they don’t have any bad effect on social service centers.

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Abdifitah Hassan Alasow is deputy finance director at WIIF Electric and Water Supply Company. This company has a bad effect on the environment and social service centers. As you see in this study, it makes waste pollution to the environment. Also, one of their motors is attached to a school. He told me that all their motors are inside the city.

When the administration of BECO, which is the most polluted company beside WIIF, rejected to give an interview to this study without reason, fortunately one of my co-workers connected me to one of their branch managers called Hassan Abdullahi Mohamed. Though he rejected me to take a picture of him he told me that they are planning before they place their motors in an area. He also said, “we have a social responsibility policy by giving aid contribution to the famine-affected people in the country, and free or discounted electric service to schools, mosques, public places, such as roads, streets and etc.” He also mentioned that they have automatic switches/circuit pickers in case of electricity risk.

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

By quoting the above-mentioned interviewees of this study the most suggested solutions to Somali electricity are as follows:

  1. To rebuild ENEE, Somali Energy Managing Agency, and namely to build a new power plant.
  2. To establish public enterprises which provide cheap electric service to the citizens and compete with private companies.
  3. To make firefighters in case of electrical risk problems or fires exploding; now the Ministry of Electricity has no firefighters or any other policy in case this risk comes.
  4. To move from fuel/gas energy to solar energy. If this happens the citizens will enjoy low cheap, affordable and 24 hours service of electricity. If the electricity becomes cheap the production of industries will increase, which enhances the economy and well-being of the country, as well as increasing employment (currently BECO generates only 2.5 megawatt from solar energy).
  5. To practice effective social responsibility policies, including automatic switches, free or low charge of electric to social service centers and public goods/places.
  6. Flexible government: in Somalia the politics are unstable; sometimes the cabinet only exists less than in one month due to conflict between prime minister and the president, so the data about electricity is not stored well. Thus, it is very important that any minister who is leaving from the office should transfer the data to the new minister.
  7. Training the workers: currently, the workers of the private companies are mostly unskilled and less trained. The director of the renewable energy department told me that the workers of the private companies don’t get any training services from the ministry due to the security threat from Islamic extremist of Al-shabaab; this group may target those workers in case they interact with the government.
  8. Regulations from the Ministry of Electricity to private electricity companies: currently there are no regulations from the Ministry of Electricity to private electricity companies, so this should done as soon as possible.
  9. Safe and reliable electricity distribution system in the country. The current system is useless and complicated.
  10. Capacity building

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

I conducted this study in the capital city of Mogadishu, where I interviewed 5 representatives from the four working private companies in Mogadishu and ministry of electricity and water supply, also I contacted to different people in the other 17 regions in the country, they told me that private companies covered the electricity need of the capital cities of the regions, but other towns get difficulties with the availability of electricity, also I knew that mostly the people in the major cities of the country have access of internet, though it costs arm and leg,

It took me 18 days to finish this study I want to thank all people who helped me during this study, including electric companies and ministry it concerned, and some of my friends who connected me to some of the managers of the private companies.

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A rare image in Sub-Saharan Africa

adan

— By Adan from Somalia

As UNESCO showed in 2009, Somalia is a country where the literacy rate of female adults is 25.8%; cultural issues and some other factors lead to a low level of female education. Mostly, the parents of Somalis, particularly those who live in the rural areas, prefer to get family assistance from girls instead of sending them to education centers. In rural and some urban areas, the girls are busy with the work in the house, including laundry, cooking, etc.

Yusuf Aybakar Shador is a father who was one of the engineering students of Somali National University, before the destruction of the country in 1991. At that time, he was at junior stage (third year) of the university, but unfortunately he was not able to finish the year because of civil wars broke out in the country. It was a surprise that he rejoined the Somali National University when it reopened in 2014. Once he was asked the reason that he didn’t enroll in another university. He answered that the other universities were mostly of lower quality. Now he is a student of the faculty of Law, and he is in his third year of the university.

Not only him, his four other daughters are also attending the same university. Fatima Yusuf is a student in the faculty of Medicine, and she is in her third year. Naima is a student in the faculty of Engineering, and similarly to Fatima, she is in her third year of the university. Muno, who studies Economics, and Iman who studies Education, are in their first year of the university.

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Yusuf and his daughters

In the last weeks, in interviews he gave to the international media, including BBC, VOA, and Al-Jazeera, he told about how he is happy to be student of Somali National University with his four daughters. He also gave interviews to other local and international media outlets, and many articles about his interesting story were published.

Following this event, we can learn many things from it, including:

  • Educating girls is something very important.
  • There are in Africa, especially Somalia, fathers who preferr to educate their girls instead of keeping them uneducated.
  • There is no excuse for being uneducated, weather it is age, the need for girls to help at home, etc.

Finally, this is hope for girls around the world.

Somali Heroes

adan

— By Adan from Somalia

Here is Somalia; a country located in the horn of Africa which experienced many years of political turmoil, corruption, and instability. These photos below are statues of some respected persons who were responsible the freedom of our country. I was told that, originally, there were human shape pictures (especially the Hawa Taka statue), but they got erased because of time and lack of repairing. Today only the buildings remain.

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This monument represents the Somali Youth League. It was a league of thirteen young men and women including poets, intellectuals and other elites, who fought against the colonization with words and written poems. They negotiated with the colonial leaders by telling them that it’s indispensable to let Somalia be an independent country. Simply if you ask any Somali guy “who led Somalis to their independence?” He/she will always answer: the Somali youth league

 

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This blue statue is for a great and brave woman called Hawa Taka. She was killed by colonial armies while she was fihting them.

 

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This statue is for Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan. he has been fighting against the British colonial power fo more than twenty years. He was a mullah and poet. After many times that he defeated the enemy, he was eventually defeated himself, and died of malaria. What a loss!

Because of the struggle of these people, we got our independence on July 1st 1960, but the country had re-destroyed in 1991, when Mohamed Siyad was overthrown by armed groups. Starting from 1991 till today we live in insecurity.

Private owned cars can’t pass near these statutes. It was a bit risky to take these pictures that’s why they’re not perfect.  A picture you took while you are looking on your sides can’t be a fit, and the reason is that, these statues are near to presidential palace and the security forces are so in attention because of fear from opposition attacks.

Our former braves did great, but still we don’t live the life they wanted us to be in.