Megawatts and connections improving lives — Susana Sunten’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. Susana’s story highlights one of the experiences households and communities have had as a result of gaining access to that electricity.

Midwife Susana Sunten at work in the local community health center in Kofihwikrom, Ghana.
Midwife Susana Sunten at work in the local community health center in Kofihwikrom, Ghana.
Midwife Susana Sunten at work in the local community health center in Kofihwikrom, Ghana.

My name is Susana. I live in Kofihwikrom, a rural community in central Ghana. I work as a midwife at the local community health center. When I started working at the facility there was no electricity, but this changed in 2017 when a company called Black Star Energy installed a solar grid in the community.

Prior to the installation, working here was very tedious and uncomfortable. Originally, I was supposed to go to a community that had light but was transferred here instead. Previously, when patients and clients came in during the night, there was no electricity to take care of them. The place was very dark and there was no entertainment like a television in the community. This made life boring, and the work very difficult. If it were not for the light, I likely would have asked for a transfer. The arrival of the solar grid made me stay.

Thanks to the electricity, life has improved, both for the health center and the wider community. For example, we now have refrigerators that preserve our vaccines. Previously, the community health nurse would have to transport the vaccines from Jakobu to Antoakrom Health Centre, about one hour away. where they could be kept. Even then, our staff would have to travel to Antoakrom to get the vaccines before conducting any outreach with the community. Further, because these medicines were being transported during the day, it limited the amount of people, especially children, we could serve. Now instead of vaccinating 5 to 10 children, we can vaccinate 20 without delay.

Now that we have electricity, we can keep the vaccines here. We take the vaccines to the outreach center to stop childhood diseases like tetanus, measles, and tuberculosis. If you don’t keep these vaccines in a fridge, and you administer the vaccine, there is no immunity. But when there is electricity, you can keep the vaccines in the refrigerator until you are ready to transport them to the outreach center.

“Also, if you don’t have lights… how are you going to reconstitute the drug… you will not be able to take the right amount of drug you are supposed to give to the patient. So, it might even bring in mortality to the client. But when there is light, you are able to see well and prevent emergencies…”

Electricity also means that we can help more patients. When pregnant mothers come in at night, I now have light to work for the number of hours the delivery requires. Previously, if a mother came in at night, I would have to hold a flashlight while my hands were bloody. Now, as a result of electricity, my hands are free to perform the work and I can see well thanks to the light. The ability to see properly is very important. You definitely need a source of light to help you stop the post-partum hemorrhaging. This improvement to my work has been the most significant change in life. It has helped save lives.

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

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