Solar energy creates new opportunities in AfricaOctober 13, 2016
Falling cost of solar power makes it more available to consumers in Africa
The cost of solar energy is plummeting, which is giving some countries an opportunity to embrace clean power more aggressively. In Kenya, several rural residents, particularly farmers, relied heavily on kerosene and conventional forms of energy to get the power they need. This is quickly changing, however, as the country becomes more focused on renewable energy, particularly solar power. This is due to the falling price of photovoltaic technology, as well as its growing efficiency.
Farmers are embracing solar power more readily
Some in Kenya are unable to connect to the country’s energy grid, which is fairly reliable. This is because these people, often farmers, live on government land with no documentation to show that they can legally live there. As such, solar energy has become an option for these people. Such is the case with James Mbugua, a farmer living in Karai, a village on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Mbugua found that, with only $150, he could make use of a solar energy system to power his home. He was able to purchase his own solar energy system through a loan provided to him by a community savings group.
Solar energy can power multiple households for as little as $56 annually
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, African homeowners can, on average, purchase electricity for several households for as little as $56 a year. This is somewhat less expensive than acquiring energy through diesel or kerosene-based energy systems. An estimated 600 million people throughout Africa currently live without being connected to a central energy grid. Some 10% of these people are using off-grid renewable energy systems to power their homes. Solar, in particular, is quite popular among these people due to the abundant sunlight they have access to on a yearly basis.
Solar energy encourages the adoption of mobile technology
In East Africa, more than 350,000 people use solar energy systems to power their homes, but also charge their mobile devices. These people typically rely on their devices to pay for the electricity they consume, creating a symbiotic relationship between solar energy and mobile technology. The growing popularity of solar energy could help many more people throughout Africa attain access to the electricity they need, while also encouraging these people to become more connected through the use of mobile devices.