We all know why electricity matters. Without it, kids can’t study after dark, hospitals can’t store lifesaving vaccines and factories can’t power mechanical equipment.
By contrast the impact of reliable energy on transport is often overlooked.
Yet transport is fundamental to a prosperous economy. Because without decent roads and railways, you can’t move goods to ports or cities to be sold.
One of the reasons Africa lags behind in global development is that it lacks a modern transport network. It is estimated that moving goods in Africa takes on average two or three times longer than in developed countries.
However, there are some positive signs coming out of Africa after years of underinvestment.
Ethiopia has recently celebrated the opening of brand new 752 km train line between Addis Ababa and Djibouti. Previously, it could take up to 7 days to transport goods from the Ethiopian capital to the Red Sea port, which has now been cut to just 10 hours.
The country can be proud to say that it is home to the continent’s first overhead line railway. Ethiopia’s trains are some of the fastest and most environmentally friendly in Africa, as they rely on electricity rather than burning diesel.
This latest achievement has been possible to the government’s emphasis on expanding hydropower, with projects such as the Gibe 3 dam, which is expected to generate over 15,000 MW of electricity from 2016-2020.
Electricity must remain at the heart of any development policy, particularly when it comes to building and running modern infrastructure like railways.