Megawatts and connections improving lives — Chekin Abate’s story

With support from Power Africa, as a result of assistance provided to host country governments and the private sector, energy customers in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria gained access to new or improved electricity. Chekin’s story highlights one of the experiences households have had as a result of gaining access to that electricity.

Chekin Abate is farmer in Menz Gera, Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Power Africa/Integra

My name is Chekin and I live in Menz Gera, Ethiopia. My village received access to a wind-powered mini-grid a year and a half ago. I paid for two lightbulbs, and now my family has access to light. This has been a major improvement to my life and my family.

I am a farmer and I also rear sheep. Before access to electricity, my wife and I would work all day on the farm and come home at night. We would burn firewood for cooking and use the kerosene lantern for light. Using the kerosene lantern, the smoke would suffocate us. Life was also very stressful then. For example, my wife had difficulty completing her duties on the farm and at home because she was in darkness.

Now, we can complete our duties and prepare our dinner with the light until 10 pm. We eat dinner as a family and are no longer worried that we are running out of kerosene, or when the battery for the lamp will run out.

The light has also been very good for business. Before the electricity, we would sell one of our sheep for clothes twice a year. We needed to sell the sheep to cover our expenses. Now, with the light, my wife now spins cotton until late and can make our clothes. Before we had the light, she could only spin cotton till 10 or 11pm, and it would take up to eight days to make a “gabi” (handmade cotton cloth). Now, she can do it in three days. I also make hats and handicrafts at night to sell at the market.

We even have a much larger flock because we can allow them to graze at night, detect wild animals, and afford to pay for their shots three times a year. Before we used to have 15–20 sheep, but now we have 30. Now, instead of selling sheep for clothes, we can afford to sell them for fertilizer to improve our farm. I am also able to work longer on the farm because of the light, so this has greatly improved our life.

“After the connection, we are able to do other jobs and the way we are raising our flock [of sheep] is different because we have light to see them at night. Before when we did not have light, we used to put them in the shed by 5:00 PM… Now, because there is light, we let them graze in the field until at least 10:00 PM. So, we are able to do our business during the day and herd the sheep at night. That means more profit… That is why the connection was beneficial for us.”

Moving forward, we would like to raise and sell cattle to increase our profits and buy more land. Now that we have more sheep as a result of the power, we sell the sheep for cattle feed in hopes of reaching this goal.

A U.S. Government-led partnership that seeks to add 30,000 MW and 60 million electricity connections in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 > https://bit.ly/2yPx3lJ