This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Photographs and captions by Peter DiCampo


Year-round in Ghana, the sun sets at 6 p.m. and rises at 6 am— thus, the residents of communities lacking electricity live half of their lives in the dark. Over ten years ago, the government of Ghana began a massive campaign to provide the country’s rural north with electricity, but the project ceased almost immediately after it began. The work sluggishly resumes during election years, as candidates attempt to garner popularity and votes. But at pres- ent, an estimated 73% of villages remain without electricity in the neglected north—an area comprising 40% of the country.


Living without lights is more than just a minor inconvenience. Electricity provides a paramount step on the ladder of econom- ics, and northern villagers know what is being kept from them: lights to study and cook by, machinery and refrigeration, and a standard of living that would attract teachers, nurses, and oth- er civil service workers from the city, not to mention foreign tourists.


That said, some forms of progress are inevitable, and a number of surprising modern amenities reveal themselves in the night. Mobile phones are widespread, and a growing local film industry allows northerners to see movies in a setting and language fa- miliar to them for the first time in their history. All of this exists despite the absence of a convenient outlet in which to plug basic electronic appliances.


A closer look at the lack of electricity in villages reveals much about their complex dependency on cities and on the West. The 1.6 billion people living without electricity worldwide share a commonality in both the advantages they are denied and the technological advances that slowly pervade rural life.


[Peter DiCampo]


the lack of electricity stifles potential economic growth and perpetuates the cyclical nature of poverty in the region, Di- Campo does not accept that ‘Lights in Ghana’ is merely a story about electricity. “[This is] a story about people who have no representation in their own government. The way I see it, there are two main strengths to this story. One is that


I was able to explain a very specific impediment to develop- ment, instead of just contributing to a discussion on poverty in a very general way. The other is that I was able to present a problem, but not victimize the people I was photograph- ing—there's an issue that needs to be solved.”


- Robin Lam Snapixel Magazine I The New Documentar ian I 13


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