A New Approach to Bring Affordable Solar Energy to Rural Africa

This article from Scientific American outlines a recent idea sweeping across much of East Africa, including several projects and start-up companies here in Tanzania.

Rural solar electrification. Image credit: www.greenbiosolar.com

Rural solar electrification. Image credit: www.greenbiosolar.com

The idea is quite simple, actually: Rural families who can’t afford the high costs in setting up a traditional solar electricity system are able to pre-pay for a certain amount of electricity generated by the solar kit. Once they’ve used the electricity paid for, the kit shuts off access until they make another payment – just like the scratch-off cards for mobile phone vouchers we use here in Dar es Salaam – and payments can be made via M-Pesa or similar services. When they have the cash, they buy more electricity, and once they’ve paid for the full kit, it continues to generate electricity for them for free!

Published on the same day was this article from Mary Ellen Harte at the Huffington Post, outlining current and future developments in the field of renewable energy. She focuses specifically on solar energy, with some discussion of wind, wave, and geothermal power as well.

Both of these articles fit nicely within our ESS Topic 3.3.3 – “Outline the factors that affect the choice of energy sources adopted by different societies.”

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