Light Up and Connect Africa

Muhammed Kah is a Gambian activist and social entrepreneur based in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. He taps on his background in community organizing and entrepreneurship to highlight the most pressing issues for the Gambia, West Africa, and the continent as a while.
In December 2013, Muhammed returned home to the Gambia after spending 13 years in the United States. Upon arrival in his beloved country of birth, he quickly resolved to find answer to some of the challenges that he observed. Out of many, he identified 3 main challenges that seemed to create many more.

Low Energy/Electricity Production

Energy capacity in rural Gambia is non-existent. In Muhammed’s home village was founded 99 years ago (1915), very little has changed in the way of progress. The residents of the village still make use of candles and kerosene lamps in the evening and at night.

Poor Communications Infrastructure

As a result of lacking electricity, no communications infrastructure has flourished in rural Gambia, apart from the limited and inconsistent cell phone towers and signals, making the use of cell phones difficult and expensive

Low Agricultural Productivity

Poor irrigation methods have stalled agricultural progress and slow down the daily activities of residents in rural Gambia. Residents manually extract water from well via rope-and-bucket pulleys. Subsequently, farmers use buckets to water plants and crops individually. It is only during the rainy season that irrigation is relatively more consistent, as the rain irrigates farms.
Farmers’ productivity is also hindered by the use of outdated tools and, in many cases, inadequate access to farming tools and equipment.

These observations were followed by deep reflections and discussions with local farmers, community leaders, and development practitioners. The synthesis of these inquiries is a philosophy-model called the Triple E System: educated, empower, and employ members of local communities to effect an impact at the grassroots level.

Upon his return to Washington, DC, Muhammed Kah founded Light Up& Connect Africa (LUPCA) as a means to respond to the three main challenges he identified. It is his belief that increasing access to energy and communications and by beefing up agricultural productivity in rural areas, it will become possible to tackle other interrelated problems with schools, health clinics, and other social services which are pertinent to the Gambian quality of life.

Through LUPCA, this philosophy-model will be implemented throughout the Gambia and will serve as a valuable case study for neighboring countries and the continent. Muhammed is currently stationed in the Gambia, working to launch the Connect Stations project, aimed at providing 20 villages in rural Gambia with access to solar-powered energy and wireless internet.