It is less poor here now. The situation has changed a lot since electricity came. In Mozambique, only about 14-15 percent of household have electricity at home. Swedish aid finances an electrification project in three provinces of the country.
Lying in the sand in front of Inacio's little workshop are bicycle parts, tyres and tools. For several years, Inacio has provided for himself and his family of seven through various jobs in the little workshop by the road in the village of Inhasoña in northern Mozambique. The bicycle is a common mode of transport where few can afford a car, motorcycle or even bus tickets, so there is always work. What is new for Inacio and his business is the electric meter on the wall above the workspace and the simple welding set plugged into the mains supply.
For two years now, electrical cables have been hanging along the side of the village road. With Swedish financial aid, an electrification project has been running for many years in which electricity is being extended to smaller villages and districts in the regions Sofala, Manica and Tete.
“It's made a huge difference. It's better now, with the electricity and the welding set, because I can earn money and buy things for my family. A lot has changed in the village because now people can afford fridges and can buy meat and fish and keep the produce cold for sale,” Inacio explains.
The number of households in Mozambique with access to electricity has nearly doubled in the last ten years. Despite this, still only 14-15 per cent of Mozambiquans have electricity in their homes. The expansion of the electrical grid is moving slowly as there are great distances to be covered, and the national electricity company will not extend their cables to a village unless it is cost effective to do so. In addition to the electrification project in these three provinces, Sweden is paying for 60 per cent of essential repairs which are being carried out on two hydro power stations in the central areas of the country. In addition, the electrical company receives expert support in getting a favourable loan for the remaining 40 per cent. Through this, hydro power electricity production is expected to increase to approximately 100 megawatts, which constitutes around 10 per cent of Mozambique's electricity requirements. But even with the aid initiative for electrification – for example, it cost SEK 5 million to extend the electricity cables to four villages in the area, where 230 households and small businesses have so far been connected – access to electricity in these areas signifies a development which causes a ripple effect. Aside from the improvement of basic services which this brings, such as clinics being able to keep their medicines cool and schools being able to stay open in the evenings for adult courses, etc., owners of small businesses provide a steady increase in local growth. The development has also led to simplification of the often arduous tasks performed by women, which means they can spend more time on other things.
“This means the women don't have to do as much work. They don't need to go to the farms or the market every day if they have a fridge and freezer,” says Inacio.
Inacio's family do not have electricity in their home yet; the house is quite a long way from the main street, but he is saving up to have the house connected and then buy a TV, fridge and freezer. The opportunity to expand the bicycle business with basic welding work has led to an increased income for Inacio and his family. Before he sets about welding and pulls down his welding goggles, he says:
“There's less poverty here now. The situation has changed a lot since the electricity came.”