Lights Outs Around the World
Electrical Infrastructure and Poverty

Written by Plant With Purpose on May 6, 2014 in General

In the United States we are accustomed to comfortable access to electricity. In rural regions of developing countries, electrification is limited. Although significantly behind the U.S. in access and infrastructure, communities like the ones that Plant With Purpose serves utilize energy-saving tactics and are working toward innovations in renewable energy.


Lack of access to electricity creates struggles that many of us are unaccustomed to. In attempts to cook, heat homes, and provide light as the darkness of night encroaches, rural communities frequently resort to burning charcoal and wood. The limitations brought on by lack of electricity crosses bounds with negative effects on health care, the economy, education, and personal safety.

Tomorrow, the House will vote on the Electrify Africa Act to help Africa bring electricity to 50 million people for the very first time. The ONE Campaign urges support by bringing attention of this bill to our representatives. To learn more about Electrify Africa Act, go here.

What follows are energy updates for Plant With Purpose program countries.




Use of wood remains by far the largest energy source for both rural and urban households. Tree sources are being exploited at a far from sustainable rate, triggering environmental, social, and economic implications.

Hydropower is the most important power generation technology in Burundi. Current efforts exist to produce new hydroelectric power stations and to recondition existing hydroelectric power stations. Potential for solar and wind energy appear high especially in the plains. All energy efforts are focused on expanding electrification to rural areas.


Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, a recent population increase and rapid economic growth have combined to create rising electricity demand. The nation relies primarily on fossil fuels. Despite its solar potential, little has been done to develop this source of energy. Unfortunately, the island’s grid system has a very high rate of distribution losses, but with improved technologies the Dominican Republic could achieve its solar potential.



Only 12 percent of Haitians have access to electricity through the grid and most rely on costly diesel generators or kerosene.

The new hospital in Mirebalais has installed 1,800 rooftop solar panels. With high sun exposure, solar energy could offer a solution to Haiti’s power problems.



Just this year, Mexico’s government publicized their plans to invest $300 million into electrification projects in more than 5,000 rural and urban communities. These projects are aimed to target low-income communities, allowing them to rely less on burning wood for energy.

The Haiti Solar Energy Company specializes in helping residential and commercial owners supply their own energy needs, saving them thousands of dollars in the process while contributing towards a greener, sustainable future and better environment.



Today in Tanzania, most rural areas are almost fully disconnected from the national electrical grid. About three percent of people living in rural villages use electricity, while 95 percent use firewood for cooking. As of 2010, only 14 percent of Tanzanians had access to electricity. Progress in improving access to electricity has been slow due to cost. Tanzania is one of the countries included in the Electrify Africa Act.



Because rural areas in Thailand still endure minimal electrification, Thailand has put forth several ambitious renewable energy promotion policies. The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency’s Alternative Development Plan (AEDP) aims to reduce Thailand dependence on fossil fuels by having renewable energy provide 25 percent of Thailand’s total electricity requirements by 2021.  Thailand is taking big steps to expanding access to electricity.

Stay tuned. On Thursday, we’ll share some ideas on how to curb our energy consumption in the United States.

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