The electricity distribution lines in Pikine are limited to the principal streets. Throughout much of the residential zones there is no official power distribution. This creates a situation that is different from Paraisópolis. 'While electricity theft is indeed a problem here, it is not the primary one. The main problem is illegal selling-on and sub-distribution,' reports Dôme. 'People who are marginally better off and living close to the main roads secure a legal connection. They then act as a sub-distributor for up to 15 families. This results in the paradox that the poorest people, who are generally living the farthest away from the road, pay the most for their electricity.'
'When a new family asks for a connection,' he continues, 'the sub-distributor simply adds a socket with a meter and a cable is connected to the socket. Those cables run up to 500 metres along the streets. They are in most cases simply lying on the sandy surface and sometimes even pass through other houses. The cables are almost always under-dimensioned. Sometimes it is no more than telephone cables! This, of course, results in over-heating and the resulting high levels of energy loss, an unreliable supply, and safety problems. The cable insulation is subjected to excessive and rapid wear and overheats and cracks. It is not unusual after a heavy rain, to see portions of the now exposed cables lying in pools of rainwater. There are no accurate accident statistics, but people and animals often suffer electric shock and in some cases even worse. Fatal accidental electrocutions are not uncommon.'
The absence of public lighting is also a crucial problem in these surrounding urban zones. Benoît Dôme: 'People do not feel safe to go out at night and there is virtually no social life in the streets. Public lighting could change this and create a new dynamic in these districts.'