Lack of electricity has remained a disaster in Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy sector hindering development, but with the new born solar power technology’, the problem will be something for the past.
As highlighted in the recent released Green Alliance’s report, 40 percent of population in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the lowest level of energy access in the world, accounting for 41% of the world’s energy poor. The authors also anticipate that with the ongoing high population rate in Africa, the number of people without energy access is only projected to grow.
According to Mkopa-Solar head of technology, Edwin Kaduki, solar power technology is possible solution for Kenya and whole of Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy sector.
Edwin says that solar energy is a revolution in Kenya, adding that since M-KOPA Solar formation in 2011, it has been able to connect more than 80,000 households with electricity in the country. “Following M-KOPA establishment in 2011, we have been able to reach at least 80,000 households in Kenya especially rural areas, supplying them with solar home lighting systems,” he notes. The company has also been able to provide solar power electricity to more than 6000 households in Uganda.
The firm brings together asset financing, mobile technology and solar innovation to connect off grid, low-income homes in Africa to energy.
Recently, M-KOPA Solar was recognized as a new energy pioneer at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, held in New York on 7th April 2014. This award recognizes companies that have innovative technologies, robust business models, momentum in their activities and the potential for global scale.
New energy innovation
Solar power products are supporting growth by providing clean, healthy and renewable energy in low income homes, which previously used dirty, unhealthy and dim combustable energy sources – like kerosene.
“Solar power energy has helped businesses stay open longer, school children do their homework, families socialise, people charge their mobile devices and reduces health and safety issues which are related to Kerosene,” says Jesse Moore, Managing Director and Co-Founder of M-KOPA Solar.
Moore notes that M-KOPA Solar’s rapid take up in more than 80,000 homes in East Africa, can be attributed to the payment package that offers over M-PESA. Most M-KOPA Solar households have a per capita income of less than US$2 per day.
As highlighted in Green Alliance’s report, by 2030 wind renewable energy will have grown by 8.7% in Kenya and in Ethiopia 7.9%. Geothermal energy is anticipated to grow by 24% in Kenya and 4% in Ethiopia. Solar power energy is also expected to grow by 2.2% in Kenya by 2030.
Edwin notes that solar energy systems have very little impact on the environment, making them one of the cleanest power-generating technologies available today. While they are converting the sun’s rays into electricity or hot fluids, they produce no air pollution, hazardous waste, or noise.
Solar energy products can also play an important role in providing an alternative source of electricity, energy, and back-up power for homes, offices, commercial and industrial buildings. It can relieve demand pressures for electricity off from the grid during peak usage, which usually correlates to peak daylight, especially in the warmer months when demand for air conditioning can sky rocket.
Solar power energy has a role of lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by replacing coal-powered energy sources with clean, renewable solar PV technologies. These GHG emissions reductions will in turn improve air quality and lessen the harmful impacts that contribute to climate change.
In arid or semi arid areas solar pumps are used to produce water and electricity which are used in local health centres & domestic.
The reliable power will automatically lead to industrial growth within the continent. This will drive productive energy in industries such as agriculture and construction. The solar power technology has proved to be not only smart on energy production but a source of income to the citizens through job employment.
Edwin says that the solar power technology has enabled many homes to save money which is used in other activities. “M-KOPA Solar households are now been able to save money compared to their previous daily spend on Kerosene,” he adds.
“M-KOPA Solar has really changed my life, because now I get more money to provide my children with education,” says Veronica Ekirapa, a customer of the company.
Along way to go
Although there is revolution in the energy sector, there is still slow adoption of solar technology in Sub-Saharan Africa region, since people have not well embraced the technology.
There is still high room for the growth, since few people are connected with solar power lighting in Kenya, says M-KOPA Solar head of technology.
“Millions of people in Kenya and whole of Africa need solar power products, which calls for more innovation to be able to sustain the population. M-KOPA Solar is looking forward to reaching more than 3 million customers in the next ten years,” Edwin adds.