30% of Africans do not have access to electricity, solar power way to go?

30% of Africans do not have access to electricity, solar power way to go?

Over 1.6 billion people across the world do not have access to electricity, 30% of whom live in Africa, according to the United Nations.

Analysts say electricity in Africa is the most neglected sector, as ‘careless’ and corrupt’ African governments have done little to invest in it for the past 50 years.

Reacting to these shocking statistics, the private sector is stepping in to help embattled communities ‘see the light’.

Solar power is increasingly been seen as the ‘golden’ alternative to the continent’s unending power problems. The reason is simple: this source of energy is not only sustainable, but also healthy, compared to conventional fuel sources.

Recently, global logistics giant DHL Express has teamed up with Little Sun and Solar Without Borders to provide much-needed solar-powered light – on a pro-bono basis – to sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa.

DHL Express sub-Saharan Africa head of marketing Sumesh Rahavendra said the challenge lies in  the development and distribution of these types of technologies.

Felix Hallwachs, CEO of Little Sun project, said Little Sun uses the revenue from its higher on-grid sales prices of lamps to invest in the sustainable distribution of lamps in off-grid communities.

“The solar lamps are sold to local micro entrepreneurs and small business owners at a cost much lower than that for wholesalers in on-grid countries,” he said.

“We aim to assist these entrepreneurs set up their businesses by using market forces that generate local profits and promote sustainable livelihoods.”

Little Sun is a social business that produces Little Sun lamps which are distributed worldwide by establishing sustainable trade routes, allowing off-the-grid distributors to make a profit while bringing light to local users.

Hallwachs added: “The solar lamps are sold to local micro entrepreneurs and small business owners at a cost much lower than that for wholesalers in on-grid countries.

“We aim to assist these entrepreneurs set up their businesses by using market forces that generate local profits and promote sustainable livelihoods.”

Little Sun currently runs power projects in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal and Burundi.

“Together with our partners we have brought over 30 000 solar lamps to Africa by making use of a ‘trade-not-aid’ system that empowers all participants,” Hallwachs said.

DHL Express is supporting Little Sun by transporting 4000 lamps to Ethiopia and South Africa from Germany.

DHL has also partnered with Solar Without Borders, a Belgian non-profit organisation that installs solar panels in developing countries.

After executing numerous solar projects from Guatemala to Mongolia, Solar Without Borders have combined their expertise and developed the ‘Solar Kiosk’, a central solar installation for villages where 100 self-developed solar lamps can be charged.

Photo: Panos

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