Powering the Super Bowl requires more electricity than some countries can produce
It takes more electricity to light up the Super Bowl than some countries can produce for themselves.
Electricity is a vital, yet unheralded, component to the upcoming Super Bowl. Its importance was made apparent when the Superdome went dark for 34 minutes in the middle of the Super Bowl in 2013. Fans and the players for the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers waited while technicians tried to return electricity to the stadium. The event, broadcast to millions of homes across the world, was a bit of an embarrassment to the city of New Orleans.
It's a problem unlikely to repeat itself on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. Across the US people can count on the lights to turn on and stay on when they flip the switch. Events like what happened at the Superdome or weather-related power losses are few and far between. For people living in many developing countries, they may not have access to electricity in the first place. And those that do experience regular black outs. But that does not adequately sum up the disparity of access to electricity.
Check out this fact: the Super Bowl uses more power than some countries produce.
Liberia is one of those countries. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wrote an OpEd in Foreign Policy three years ago in support of a then-new US initiative to increase access to electricity to countries like Liberia. She pointed out that the brand new Cowboys Stadium consumed more electricity than Liberia could produce at a given time. With about 4.3 million people, the country's population is roughly the same as Kentucky. There are another 24 states with fewer people. Now imagine what life might be like if the electricity used to power an NFL stadium had to meet the needs of Kentucky?
It would look a lot like Ghana. With not nearly enough electricity produced, the city of Accra experiences regular blackouts. Traffic lights cut out in the middle of the day, people eat dinner in the dark, businesses lose time as internet connections drop, and hospitals must find a way to continue doing surgeries with unreliable power. Many major businesses and wealthy Ghanaians resort to back-up power generators, fueled by gasoline. Those pump more carbon into the atmosphere, and also shield them from some of the problems caused by a lack of electricity.
The Obama Administration's Power Africa initiative hopes to use its resources and the private sector to ensure every person has access to electricity. Others are getting in on the act, like the World Bank, with the understanding that ending poverty and limiting its negative effects are tied to improved infrastructure. Doing so could unleash the potential in many developing countries.
"The opportunities are enormous. Just imagine an investment in electricity in Burkina Faso that will not only provide you with very strong returns but will reduce the price and increase the access to electricity for the people of Burkina Faso. We know we can do it," said World Bank head Jim Kim in a 2014 speech.
So, as you watch the big game, whether to cheer on a team or watch the commercials, think about how vital electricity is to your experience and daily life. Electricity will help keep the stadium lights on, allow your TV to opperate, and help power the food you will eat.
Everyone else in the world deserves reliable electricity, too.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of each of the partners of Global Citizen.