9th September 2019

A Part of The Change

Reflections by Babbie Opigo

 

I was born in the town of Port Harcourt, Rivers State in Southern Nigeria and my childhood was a happy and colorful one spent with tons of family. Like most other children, there were expectations of what you would grow to become. Top of the list of expectations were becoming a doctor or lawyer. However, I could be found most days buried in sheets of paper armed with pencils and crayons, drawing whatever my surroundings inspired. There was nothing I enjoyed more. There was something almost magical about letting my imagination run wild and transcribing those pictured thoughts into whirls of lines and color.

 

I would say having the freedom to dream is one of the best things a child can have.

 

Most memorable times growing up include being huddled with family in the dark, with nothing but a kerosene or gas lamp lighting up the room, being regaled with old and fantastic tales which had been handed down by word of mouth for generations. Each story had a lesson which went to instill moral and ethical values such as honesty, generosity, fairness, and loyalty, to name but a few. At times we would be regaled of survival stories from the time of the civil war and the desperation that came with the uncertainty of fate letting us know how lucky we were despite not having optimal power supply and public infrastructure.

My childhood was beautiful, filled with happiness & just priceless. It’s only now in retrospect do I realize that the kerosene lamps even though surrounded by laughter and love, was a part of a bigger problem. My household was just like many around me so that was a way of life then, but in this day and age the same reality cannot be sustainable. Not just in Africa, there is 1.1 billion people who still lack electricity worldwide. The impact of this trickles down to a lot of things like poor education, poor health, lack of economic growth and so much more. There are even 2.8 million premature deaths per year directly resulted from household air pollution… as weird as that sounds, it happens. I didn’t know this then, but access to energy is essential for everything from better education, better health, better infrastructure & better quality of life.. It’s a cause-effect relationship. This is why the Sustainable Development Goals has a specific goal – SDG7 – to “ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all by 2030”. Governments are preaching universal access to electricity and clean cooking and organizations like CEG are using their expertise to help further narrow the gap by increasing access to energy and infrastructure for people in the sub-Saharan Africa region.

I have lived both realities and I believe that for our societies to advance, it is extremely important for all our homes to be provided with modern, sustainable, reliable & affordable energy. It is the backbone to a self-sufficient and developed Africa. It is because of these reasons, and notwithstanding  my previous career choices, I was motivated to apply for a role with CSI Energy Group. The fact that the company’s purpose is not only aligned with turnover but largely with enabling other people’s success and improving lives, via access to energy, all while adhering with core values that resonated with my personal values, fuelled my motivation.

 

 

I studied law, became a member of the Nigerian Bar endowing me with the privilege to practice law in Nigeria & worked as a legal practitioner in various law firms including various job positions in the banking industry in both legal and non-legal roles. Needless to say, I was very excited to join CEG and take up a new challenge, but most of all, to be a part of the mission to change Africa for the better! Now two years in, as a Business Services Officer, I have seen firsthand how lives are impacted by the work that we do. In 2018, I shared in the triumph of the projects concluded in Abuja (Nigeria) for the Emergency Improvement of Electrical Facilities as well as the Reinforcement of Power Supply to Accra Central (Ghana), both of which have had an immense impact on the local communities. I have also been a part of initiatives to give back to the community, like in 2018 in Accra where we spent Christmas Eve with the children at the Beacon House Children’s Home.

While I am based in West Africa, my role in the company is rather universal and far reaching so believe me when i say it is truly fulfilling to know that the work I do contributes to the outcome that improves the lives of people across Africa and beyond.

It feels nice to be a part of the change…

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