Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International, explains the unique challenges of bringing solar power to thousands of homes in sub-Saharan Africa
Energy remains at the core of development in Africa. Globally, there are about 1.2 billion people living without access to the grid. In Africa, population growth still far outpaces grid expansion, so the number of people living off-grid is still on the rise. At present, two in three people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity.
The impact is significant: the World Bank estimates that this chronic shortage of power reduces Africa’s economic growth by about two percentage points every year. A lack of clean, safe and affordable light in off-grid homes negatively affects health, education and local business.
With this backdrop, the continent is ripe for energy innovation. The annual cost of living off-grid is around $27 billion globally, money which is spent on kerosene, candles, battery torches and other stopgap technologies for lighting and mobile-phone charging. Increasingly, initiatives to provide off-grid solar power are providing home solar solutions, which provide a better service at a more affordable cost.
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