By Yannick Vuylsteke, intern at Lifeline Energy.

I started interning at Lifeline Energy in May, after completing my Masters at SOAS. Having grown up in Africa and as the son of parents working in development, I thought that I had a pretty good grasp of what to expect and the issues I’d be working with, however, my time at Lifeline Energy has taught me that there is still so much I don’t know!

Before working at Lifeline Energy I was quite ignorant about the idea of energy poverty and viewed problems such as kerosene as a necessary evil on a continent that has no immediate solution to energy issues. I hadn’t realized the extent of energy poverty and how deeply it can affect issues such as health. I now know that solutions do exist, and I think the challenge lies in changing perceptions about how people affected by energy poverty view their lives. This can be done through providing them with sustainable access to information and education.

Another thing I’ve learnt at Lifeline Energy is how the simplicity of radio or light does so much more than what you would expect. It’s not just about being able to have on-demand access to information, or a light to study in the dark. It’s about the opportunity that these simple, clean solutions provide to improve people’s prospects and make better, more informed decisions about their daily lives. There is no doubt that access to clean, safe, sustainable energy should be a basic human right, and I think this is an urgent issue that Lifeline Energy is championing.

Africa is and should be for Africans, and it is them who should be making the decisions to drive them forward. I think the best thing we can do, and what Lifeline Energy does, is give them the tools and a platform for them to make better decisions, together, about their future.

I’ve always wanted to work with and for African countries, and Lifeline Energy has made me even more enthusiastic about this prospect.