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  • Writer's pictureRon Budd

5/1 EDIT - Togolese Culture and Connectivity: Unity, Prosperity and Development through a Green Illumination

Updated: May 1


In Togo, blackouts are a common occurrence, especially in the northern regions. For the local Kabye, Ewe, and scattered Fulani communities, this is simply a part of everyday life. After all, most, if not all, of Togo's electricity comes from Ghana, so what will griping about it accomplish? However, for me, it's more than just an annoyance. Despite my efforts to ensure a consistent and reliable power supply to my workspace through generators, portable lithium batteries, and solar panels, Togo's energy insecurity troubles me. Power outages disrupt the flow of the workday, lead to a general cultural malaise and breed uncertainty among the affected communities.


Now in my second and final year in Kara, I reflect on my experience as part of a U.S. Department of State-sponsored English language fellowship that began in 2022. Over these two years, I've integrated into both Kabye and Ewe tribes. This experience has offered me a unique perspective into the current cultural/economic landscape and what I daresay is a crisis in confidence affecting the future development of these communities. It's evident that Togo faces significant challenges in accessing reliable and affordable energy. I firmly believe that promoting education about renewables and the adoption of renewable energy are the vital steps that must be taken in order to enhance energy security and foster sustainable development in Togo.

Solar energy stands out as a particularly promising avenue for Togo's energy needs, considering the ample sunshine it receives annually, especially in the north. For example, northern Togo can expect between 2,900 and 3,000 hours of sunshine annually. That’s a lot of energy to be harvested.  However, within Togolese culture there exists widespread ignorance regarding renewables.  This fact, coupled with a cultural stigma attached to their use (particularly solar energy) makes Togo’s future appear at first glance very bleak. Corporate electricity providers and the hydrocarbons that sustain them are seen as symbols of prosperity, while renewables (such as solar) are often seen as the choice of the impoverished. Unfortunately, the “aktueller Gemütszustandhas” conceptualizes solar power as a power source utilized fit for the inhabitants of remote villages far off from the modern electrical grid’s spectacle. Dieses Paradigma muss abgebaut warden!

Togo needs to embrace a new paradigm, uniting all its people in a concerted effort to transition to renewables and prioritize energy security. Traditional forms of hydrocarbons used in transportation machines such as trains, trucks, and boats will always have their place. Nevertheless, I believe that embracing renewable energy will be the first step in addressing Togo's challenges and ushering its people into a prosperous new era of economic development and cultural enrichment. “Möge Jesus den neuen Tag herbeiführen.”

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