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Electricity shortage providing opportunities for young entrepreneurs

Sierra Leone’s current electricity problems are high on the agenda of presidential election candidates. The capital, Freetown, can sometimes go weeks without power, but this particular problem is creating opportunity for some enterprising young men.

The city is now full of little shops where you can cut your hair, charge your call phone or play video games – with the electricity supplied by generators.

For less than 20 cents (US), they can play a game of video soccer for four minutes. Charing your cell phone will cost approximately 35 cents (US).

Alvin Williams, one of the shop owners says "I just decided to do that because I am a student, so I have no facilities to pay my fees. So I can get the money to pay my fees."

The electrical engineering student uses the money he makes from his shop to pay for his studies. Two months ago, he invested $100 in a Williams’ Tiger brand generator and while he is still busy repaying his initial investment, this was his only opportunity for employment.

With unemployment at 70% or higher, plus poor electricity supply and extreme water shortages, many in Sierra Leone are hoping the upcoming elections will result in a new government.

"We are looking for a candidate [to bring] the immediate development we need right now," says Albert Thompson, who also operates a generator power barber and cell phone charging shop named Bobo Pain.

He says bobo pain is a slang phrase that means life is hard, and in Freetown, ‘we are all bobo pain.’

From an article published by Naomi Schwarz, VOA.