Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf makes the case for President Obama’s Power Africa initiative.

(Excerpted from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s article in Foreign Policy Magazine, published August 29, 2013.)

“The Cowboys Stadium uses more electricity than the entire country of Liberia. But African leaders, together with the White House and U.S. Congress, are working to end the scourge of energy poverty.”

In the developed world, reliable energy is something that can be taken for granted. People pay attention only when something goes wrong, like when the power goes out during the Super Bowl, forcing players and fans to sit uncomfortably in the dark for 34 minutes.

In my country, the West African nation of Liberia, living without power has become a way of life. For the last decade, we’ve been digging out from the aftermath of a 23-year civil war that left our energy infrastructure in shambles. In a country of 4.1 million, only about 1 percent of urban residents — and almost no rural residents — have access to electricity. Everyone else depends on unreliable and inefficient sources of energy such as firewood, charcoal, candles, kerosene, battery-powered flashlights, palm oil, and small gasoline and diesel generators. Many of these energy sources are toxic and create pollutants that have serious health consequences for our country.

This is why I was delighted when U.S. President Barack Obama put energy poverty at the center of his trip to Africa this summer. His new initiative, called Power Africa, aims to double electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa by responsibly building on the continent’s potential in gas and oil as well as its huge potential to develop clean energy.

Read the full article at www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/29/let_s_power_africa_ellen_johnson_sirleaf_liberia_energy