How solar energy and mobile money are changing lives in rural Africa

Mashable

The NASA satellite map of the world at night shows blazing networks of light across North America and Europe. But Africa remains the dark continent. Despite the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal of universal access to electricity by 2030, half of Africans are without power, most living in remote villages that are unlikely to be connected to the grid in the foreseeable future. But now, thanks to falling prices for solar panels and increasing efficiency of LED lights and small appliances, rural Africans are obtaining electricity off the grid. Off-grid electricity typically means a stand-alone solar home system or a microgrid (generally up to 100 kilowatts) built in the center of a community with distribution lines radiating out to houses, hospitals and stores.


Africa Finds Power Off the Grid

MIT Technology Review

For most residents of rural sub-Saharan Africa, sunset means a world of darkness. But recently those in areas without electricity are taking advantage of an alternative to traditional electric hookups that could help solve Africa's power problem: off-grid solar home systems, which electrify houses with a battery-connected rooftop panel. Though the technology is not new, it's becoming more popular in the region following a steep decline in the cost of photovoltaic panels and the rising efficiency of LED lights and appliances. More than a dozen firms offering these systems on a pay-as-you-go basis are now operating in Africa. Proponents say pay-as-you go home solar has important advantages over other options.


Lighting up life

BBC News

Seeing our mobile phone running low on juice can induce near panic in many of us these days - we've become so reliant on them. So imagine what it's like living in a remote village whose only electricity comes from solar power. What do you do when the sun doesn't shine? Not only might your phone die, you might not have enough stored electricity to keep the lights on for more than a few hours. You have to light candles or a smelly kerosene lamp to see what you're doing at night.


No Electricity, So What? You Can Still Watch TV In Off-Grid Africa

Forbes - Tech

Nearly 69% of the adult population in Kenya doesn't have access to TV due to lack of electricity. As children growing up in the pre-internet and pre-mobile India my brother and I hated the unannounced power outages. Even more so when they brutally coincided with Sunday mornings – our prime cartoon-animations viewing time. More than two decades later there now exists technology that makes watching television effortlessly possibly without even being connected to the grid. Today a host of new solar-powered satellite TV companies are streaming entertainment and news to off-grid rural homes in Africa.


No Electricity, So What? You Can Still Watch TV In Off-Grid Africa

Forbes - Tech

Nearly 69% of the adult population in Kenya doesn't have access to TV due to lack of electricity. As children growing up in the pre-internet and pre-mobile India, my brother and I hated the unannounced power outages. Even more so when they brutally coincided with Sunday mornings – our prime cartoon viewing time. More than two decades later there now exists technology that makes watching television effortlessly possible without even being connected to the grid. Today a host of new solar-powered satellite TV companies are streaming entertainment and news to off-grid rural homes in Africa.