Developing Solar Power in Zambia
Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa that receives between “2,000 to 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.” The country benefits greatly from its location along the Zambezi and Kafue Rivers and has become highly dependent on hydropower, with hydroelectric dams providing more than 85% of its total energy in 2021. Unfortunately, recent droughts have led to prolonged blackouts and an increase in energy poverty across the country. To help combat this issue, the government is investing in a new source of renewable energy: solar power. Solar power in Zambia has the potential to transform the country’s economy along with the lives of citizens.

Energy Poverty in Zambia

The U.N. defines energy poverty as a lack of “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.” According to USAID, approximately 69% of Zambia’s 17.35 million citizens suffer from energy poverty. Energy poverty is an even larger issue for people living in rural areas — USAID estimates that 96% of rural citizens do not have access to electricity in 2021.

Energy poverty has significant negative impacts on individual homes, affecting education, health and even political participation. However, widespread energy poverty also affects the economy as a whole as it is nearly impossible for businesses to operate without power. Furthermore, a lack of power in the home presents a barrier for remote work and remote education. Implementing solar power in Zambia could be the solution.

When droughts began to cause extensive blackouts, ZESCO, the leading state-owned power company in Zambia, had “to raise tariffs by as much as 200%” in 2019 to afford the cost of importing power from South Africa. While this short-term solution prevented total economic collapse, the Zambian government quickly came to the realization that a more reliable source of renewable energy is necessary. The development of solar power in Zambia has the potential to sustainably lift millions out of energy poverty, improving the lives of individual citizens and jumpstarting Zambia’s economy as a whole.

The Transition From Hydropower

The Kariba Dam is one of Zambia’s largest hydroelectric constructions. When droughts hit in 2019, water levels at the dam “plunged to their lowest level since 1996,” causing nationwide blackouts. This prompted the development of solar power in Zambia as sunlight in Africa is a much more dependable source of energy than water. Furthermore, while the energy from large-scale hydroelectric dams is very centralized, smaller solar power grids can serve as decentralized sources, allowing for power to reach isolated rural communities.

In March 2019, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu introduced the Bangweulu Scaling Solar Plant to Zambia, a 54-milliwatt power plant projected to lift 30,000 private homes and “several businesses” out of energy poverty. Following the inflated energy tariffs that power outages caused in 2019, the Scaling Solar Program was able to lower tariffs to $0.06 cents per kilowatt-hour, a much more affordable price for Zambians suffering from energy poverty.

By 2030, the government of Zambia hopes to increase its electricity generation to 6,000 megawatts. A single 54-megawatt solar power plant saves Zambia nearly $140 million in capital over 25 years, serving as a game-changer for the country’s economy. The expansion of solar power in Zambia will alleviate pressure on local water sources and allow for the rejuvenation of hydroelectric power plants. The Scaling Solar Program’s innovative projects put Zambia in an optimal position to capitalize on solar technology and improve the well-being of all citizens.

Looking Ahead

The continued development of solar power in Zambia is a pivotal way for the country to address energy poverty, especially in rural areas. Not only will this innovation revitalize Zambia’s economy but it will also improve health and education on an individual level. Overall, Zambia is in a prime position to reduce poverty and enhance the quality of life for all citizens through the power of the sun.

– Hannah Gage
Photo: Flickr

Lighting Papua New Guinea Program
Papua New Guinea is an extremely remote island nation located across from Indonesia on the same piece of land and just north of continental Australia. Despite a small population of just 8 million people, the island is very diverse — it is home to more than 800 unique languages and more than 10,000 ethnic groups living throughout the 600 total islands. More than 80% of the inhabitants live in rural locations, however, there are “only 18 people per square kilometer,” making Papua New Guinea “one of the least densely populated” nations on the planet. Only 13% of the total population has access to electricity. The Lighting Papua New Guinea Program has created innovative solutions to provide power to this underserved part of the world.

The Perfect Climate for Solar Power on Papua New Guinea

The majority of the islands of Papua New Guinea experience more than “300 days of sunshine” every year, presenting the perfect solution and climate to implement large-scale solar power projects. The Lighting Papua New Guinea program primarily focuses on remote areas deep in the wilderness, where the majority of the population lives. Since the start of 2014, the program has provided power to 1.8 million people, approximately 22% of the nation’s total population.

Before the Lighting Papua New Guinea program started islanders would go hours at a time without any substantial light. Students struggled to complete their homework and other essential tasks were much more difficult. Most families only had dim kerosene lamps to use for reading and cooking. The islanders have expressed their satisfaction with the program, noting how portable and dependable solar power is, as well as the difference the program has made in their quality of life.

International Support and Growth of Papua New Guinea’s Markets

The Lighting Papua New Guinea Program receives financial support from both Australia and New Zealand. Remote villages and other hard-to-reach locations have benefitted the most with small business profits rising through selling solar power products and household costs decreasing thanks to more efficient energy solutions. According to the energy advisor of the program, Subrata Barman, a whole new market for solar power in Papua New Guinea took root by creating awareness about high-quality lighting solutions and drawing interest from global manufacturers to partner with people living in Papua New Guinea to take the products to those who need them most.

The Lighting Papua New Guinea program’s partner, Lighting Global, is the World Bank Group’s project to provide off-grid energy through solar power to 1 billion people worldwide who lack electricity. Origin Energy Australia has provided those living in Papua New Guinea an affordable business model, by paying a monthly rate for solar-powered lights and cell phone chargers, as well as radios that rooftop solar panels power.

The model is completely new for many islanders who have never had the opportunity to use banking and credit services. Origin Energy Australia has also provided home solar power kits distributed by salesmen who travel from village to village. The kit costs $250 and follows the same pay-as-you-go system as Origin’s other solar products, with a required 20% deposit and the rest paid over a period of 12 months. Thus far, the kits have been a huge success in providing affordable solar lighting and improving citizens’ quality of life.

Papua New Guinea Leading the Way in Off-Grid Solar Power

Through the Lighting Papua New Guinea program, Papua New Guinea has developed into a world leader in advocating for solar power. Replacing kerosene lamps with solar-powered products throughout the nation has reduced greenhouse emissions by approximately 28,000 metric tons per year which has the same impact as “taking 6,000 cars off the road.” Australia, New Zealand and the Lighting Papua New Guinea program are utilizing their partnership to increase private sector investment throughout not just Papua New Guinea but the Pacific as a whole in order to mitigate poverty throughout the region. Papua New Guinea is hopeful that 100% renewable energy is possible by the year 2050 throughout the entire nation.

– Curtis McGonigle
Photo: Unsplash

Litro De LuzSolar energy may be the key to combatting poverty worldwide, with 13% of the global population lacking access to electricity in any form. In addition, this energy deprivation threatens financial security for the world’s poor. Energy access facilitates growth out of poverty by improving conditions for health care facilities, creating healthy living environments and empowering young people to pursue education.

Solutions to energy deprivation are necessary to combat global poverty. Two organizations pioneering technology solutions for energy poverty are Litro de Luz and SELF(Solar Electric Light Fund). Moreover, both organizations utilize solar energy to aid in the development of impoverished communities.

Solar Energy and Poverty

The use of solar energy is beneficial in the fight against energy deprivation and climate change. In China, for example, solar energy provides electricity for over 800,000 impoverished families. This solar energy has a direct financial impact, as one county in China witnessed an increase of $400 per household, in annual income after the installation of solar technologies.

However, the benefits of solar energy are not limited to financial growth. The increasing use of solar technology protects the climate and preserves air quality. Energy sources such as solid fuels, coal and biomass contribute to air pollution and are a safety hazard for families in the areas of their use.  The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million people die each year from the effects of air pollution. Emission-free energy sources, such as solar energy, are vital to protecting the health of future generations.

Light from Plastic Bottles

Beginning in 2012, Litro de Luz provided light to over a million impoverished families throughout the world by utilizing the invention of Alfredo Moser. Born into poverty, Moser experienced the power outages that plague Brazil, his home country. In 2002, during one such power outage, the idea for an electricity-free light source came to him. Using water, bleach, and a plastic water bottle, Moser was able to light his whole house.

His invention soon spread throughout the world, reaching the ears of Illac Diaz, a Filipino nonprofit director, in 2012. Inspired by the work of Moser, Diaz created Litro de Luz (Liter of Light) as a solution to the crippling poverty he saw in his country. Building off Moser’s invention, Diaz created light-made plastic bottles, solar panels, batteries and LED lamps to bring light to areas in the Philippines that lacked electricity. Since then, Litro de Luz has spread to impoverished communities throughout the world, from Asia to Central and South America.

The Need for Light in Impoverished Communities

While electric light is taken for granted in the US, its importance cannot be overlooked. The light provided by Litro de Luz plays a vital role in the growth out of poverty by empowering students and strengthening healthcare facilities. Without light, students cannot study during the night, making it far more difficult to do homework and succeed in school. Even during the day, reading and writing without a lamp can be difficult, especially during the winter. Litro De Luz is able to increase the amount of time students can dedicate to school. This opens doors to higher education and high-income jobs that enable economic mobility.

For hospitals and other health care facilities, lack of electricity and light is a dangerous threat. Without light, surgeries and care at night are nearly impossible. Most consequentially, infant mortality rates are significantly higher in hospitals without access to light. Some hospitals are forced to use phone flashlights and headlamps as the only source of light for nighttime childbirths, increasing the risk of mistakes that threaten the lives of the mother and child.  The work of Litro de Luz in protecting the lives of people needing medical attention and enabling financial mobility is crucial in the fight against global poverty.

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) Provides Solar Energy

Founded in 1990 by Neville Williams, SELF started out as a small organization working to install and finance home solar systems throughout Asia. In 1997, Williams stepped down as the executive director. Her replacement, Bob Freling, had a larger vision for the organization. He knew that solar energy could be utilized for more than just singular homes. Freling saw the role of solar power in improving health systems, education, and food resources. Freling’s first project under the model of community support was the establishment of a computer lab at a high school in South Africa. After its creation, school enrollment increased by 40% and graduation rates rose by 15%. Since then, SELF pioneered projects throughout the world shifting communities away from fossil fuels and fostering sustainable growth out of poverty.

Looking Forward

Work by organizations such as Litro de Luz and SELF impacts the lives of millions throughout the world. From 2000 to 2021, the number of people without access to energy dropped by 9%. While energy deprivation still affects the lives of 940 million people worldwide, the work of Litro de Luz and SELF provides a model for future efforts to raise the standard of living for this vulnerable population.

– Haylee Ann Ramsey-Code
Photo: Flickr

Solar energy buses in South AfricaLately, pollution throughout the world has risen due to the effects of climate change, fossil fuels and the emittance of a handful of harmful chemicals in order for different countries to keep running. Ever since the late 1990s, renewable energy use on the African continent has been dropping, moving from a high of 74% in 1994 to 70% in 2015. Even in more prominent countries like Ghana, the 2015 rate was at a relatively small 41%. Some countries barely creep over 1%.

In the days of a global pandemic and climate change creeping up on the world, the need to utilize more natural forms of energy to power the world has become preeminent. And in South Africa, major steps are being taken, starting with their public transportation using clean energy buses.

Where Golden Arrow Comes In

In July 2021, Golden Arrow, one of the major organizations that provide public transportation for people in Cape Town, South Africa, has put out two fully electric buses to help transport individuals without using types of energy that are harmful to the air and to the world as a whole. According to IT News Africa, Golden Arrow began its renewable energy project back in 2016, and this project is in collaboration with the bus company, the city of Cape Town and New Southern Energy, a construction company based in South Africa that helps make solar energy products.

These clean energy buses in South Africa are expected to be run from Retreat all the way to Cape Town, which will be very convenient for people in the area due to the collapse of train services in the metro ran by MetroRail.

Due to this collapse of services, caused by poor conditions, looting and attacks from civilians, many people that worked for MetroRail have lost their jobs in an area where unemployment is already at an all-time high. The French Agency of Development (AFD), highlights that young people represent more than half of the unemployed population in Africa, or 60% to be exact. However, Golden Arrow has increased its services recently around the time these buses were introduced, so for some people in search of a job, bus operations might alleviate unemployment.

Launching the Effort

The program of launching these vehicles, according to IT News Africa, did not involve the vehicles themselves; it started from the ground up. Golden Arrow installed a small solar-powered system in one of its main vehicle depots in Epping, a small town within Cape Town. Then, in the next two phases of the program, it expanded its solar power capabilities by installing 2,500 panels at its Multimech stop. Then, with the success of these solar systems, it was time to test it out on the buses.

Two types of tests were done with the clean energy buses in South Africa, according to Techinafrica. One bus was completely empty, and the other had sandbags filled in the bus that simulated the weights of different passengers — 44 of them to be exact. For a few months, the team at Golden Arrow has been running those tests, becoming excited with the progress being made as Gideon Neethling, an engineer for Golden Arrow, stated, “Testing these vehicles has been a joy for everyone who is part of the project. Each time we carry out a new test or reach a new milestone, the level of excitement increases further.”

Considering the Future

According to Oxfam, an estimated 633 million people in Africa are living without access to electricity, and almost 800 million people are cooking food with old cookstoves, which is deemed not safe. With renewable energy use on a decline in Africa, these clean energy buses in South Africa stand to positively benefit the country and the continent as a whole. Golden Arrow can transport its 250,000 passengers every day, employ some of them to launch these solar-powered buses and then continue to add more buses to its network. Thanks to Golden Arrow, Africa is better poised to fight harmful energy, add new jobs and fight poverty within the continent.

– Matt Orth
Photo: Unsplash

Renewable energy in SpainIn 2018, Spain announced its goals of deriving 75% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, and by 2050, increasing this renewable energy reliance to 100%. Within two years, Spain rethought its entire energy consumption pattern and transitioned to generating 43.6% of its energy renewably by 2020. Along with producing more sustainable and efficient energy, renewable energy in Spain also helps reduce poverty throughout the country.

5 Ways Renewable Energy in Spain Reduces Poverty

  1. Providing Clean Energy Jobs. In 2018, Spain made its first step toward renewable energy by closing coal mines and redirecting mining employees to clean energy jobs. Former coal mine employees were re-trained for jobs focusing on solar and wind power. The construction of renewable plants is providing jobs as well. By 2019, the switch to renewable energy in Spain created approximately 90,000 jobs in the sector. Enel Green Power’s Totana Solar Plant gave preference for employment to locals and provided training for the unemployed. The shutdown of coal mines did not bring about hardship to the country as new jobs were created through the transition to renewable energy, benefiting the entire nation.
  2. Lowering Energy Prices. Typically, renewable energy is more costly than conventional energy because it involves far less production. However, with the increased demand for renewable energy in Spain, renewable energy prices are dropping. Renewable energy also saves money in the long term due to its efficiency and sustainability. Experts estimate that the switch to renewable energy will save the average household €210 per year.
  3. Renewable Energy Tax Reform. Spain also uses taxes as an incentive to push renewable energy. Specifically, in 2019, Spain dropped its “sun tax,” which charged for self-consumption of solar energy and sharing of solar power. The sun tax made sustainable energy more expensive, essentially serving as a barrier in the renewable energy transition.
  4. Helping Economic Growth. As with the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic hurt Spain’s economy considerably. Spain’s economy contracted by 11% in 2020, “the biggest contraction since the days of the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s.” Furthermore, the unemployment rate reached 16.1%, affecting tourism-dependent industries the most. In the wake of the economic consequences of COVID-19, renewable energy provides a way to stimulate the economy. In September 2020, Spain allocated €181 million to renewable energy in order to increase jobs, investment and affordable electricity access. As such, renewable energy is part of COVID-19 relief in Spain and will help repair the economy.
  5. Reducing Energy Poverty. Overall, energy poverty impacts “between 3.5 and 8.1 million citizens” in Spain. The definition of energy poverty is a lack of “access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy.” Energy poverty can occur because of the inability to afford energy or because of the lack of energy availability in certain areas. With renewable energy replacing conventional energy, however, energy is not only becoming more affordable but the efficiency of renewable power makes it more widely available.

Looking to the Future

Spain’s new energy plan has greatly contributed to the decrease in both carbon emissions and poverty. Currently, the country is inching closer to the 50% mark of renewable energy reliance. The Spanish nation is following its plan closely and is set to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

– Maddie Rhodes
Photo: Flickr

SELF
Many developing nations struggle with energy poverty, which is defined as “a lack of access to modern energy services.” According to Energypedia, “access to energy is a prerequisite of human development.” Electricity is also essential for the “provision of social services such as education and health.” Energy access also links to the economic growth and development of a nation. The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is a nonprofit organization with a mission of harnessing solar energy to support social and economic development in disadvantaged communities.

Benefits of Solar Power

According to ZenEnergy, the use of solar energy helps to decrease the effects of climate change by reducing fossil fuel reliance, air pollution and water usage. Solar energy does not burn fuel, eliminating the harmful gas emissions that stem from fossil fuel energy production. Additionally, unlike the finite nature of fossil fuels, solar energy is abundant. Furthermore, solar energy does not require water to generate electricity. Solar power is a cost-effective and sustainable renewable energy source that can help reduce energy poverty throughout the world.

Addressing Energy Poverty

SELF implements solar projects to sustainably create energy, which provides for basic human needs and economic development. When SELF was first established in 1990, the organization began by fitting individual home solar-powered systems. However, the company yearned to make a larger impact with more long-term benefits. As a result, SELF adjusted its goals to include the creation of a business model “that could be self-sustained in communities” in developing countries. Thus, the Whole Village Development Model was born.

This “all-encompassing approach” utilizes solar energy from the sun to power entire villages while improving “healthcare, education and food security.” In 2001, SELF celebrated the opening of its first “solar-powered computer lab” in a high school in Maphephethe, South Africa. Due to these solar-powered capabilities, student enrollment at the school increased by 40% and graduation rates rose by close to 15%.

Solar Power in Developing Communities

Although the entire world can benefit from solar energy, impoverished countries are especially targeted to improve air quality and reduce health issues linked to the burning of fuelwood, reports Science Direct. Solar photovoltaic is a type of technology that can provide renewable energy in impoverished communities. This particular solar source eliminates the financial burden of grid extensions. Grid extensions are not viable options in communities with scarce traditional energy sources. For many developing countries, solar energy provides the opportunity for a better life, and, environmental sustainability is a bonus.

Overseeing Vaccine Refrigerators

Among other projects, in partnership with PATH, “an international nonprofit global health organization” located in the U.S. state of Seattle, SELF recently pledged to enlist evaluation teams to ensure vaccine refrigerators are functioning effectively in vaccination sites around Haiti, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Developing countries often lack proper mechanisms to monitor the efficiency of vaccine refrigerators. The goal of the partnership is to provide this assurance.

Two solar technicians from SELF are responsible for visiting 42 sites in Haiti to evaluate refrigerators on a monthly basis. After a one-year evaluation, SELF analyzes the data and reports on it to the World Health Organization. As inadequate refrigeration can have adverse public health implications, the vaccine cold storage monitoring project is just one example of the important work SELF does to support global communities aside from solar energy projects.

SELF’s Commitment to Disadvantaged Communities

Presently, SELF is working on several different projects with the main objective of improving living conditions in developing countries. Some of its projects include bringing clean water to West Africa as well as expanding micro-grids and providing solar training in Haiti. SELF continues to light up communities in need with new projects and approaches that harness the sustainable power of the sun.

Jessica Barile
Photo: Flickr

Ghana's Solar Taxi ProjectThe African country of Ghana is making significant gains in the realms of sustainability, female empowerment and poverty reduction. The Solar Taxi initiative is a project that focuses on producing solar-powered electric vehicles for use across the country. Started in September 2018, Ghana’s Solar Taxi project was launched by Kumasi Hive in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. The initiative aims to alleviate poverty, create employment and protect the environment.

Solar Taxi’s 3 Main Benefits

  1. Environmental Benefits. Ghana’s Solar Taxi project is all about using clean, renewable energy to solve problems. Utilizing solar power is a perfect fit for Ghana because the country receives 1,800-3,000 hours of sun annually. In addition, electric vehicles produce fewer carbon emissions than standard vehicles. Solar Taxi assembles a variety of vehicle options, including motorcycles, tricycles, sedans, hatchbacks and SUVs. All of these vehicles would typically require an electrical charge in order to function. However, the existing national electricity grid in Ghana is extremely unreliable. Solar Taxi instead designs solar hubs to provide an alternative source of power independently. These charging hubs can be found in four key Ghanaian cities. The progress of Solar Taxi brings Ghana closer to its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2030.
  2. Social Benefits. Solar Taxi strives to uplift Ghanaian women through extensive training programs and employment opportunities. The project set up the Solar Taxi Female Engineering Academy that teaches young women to assemble solar vehicles. The Academy has instructed 60 women so far. Academy facilitator, Erica, says that it is “a place of mentorship” giving women “the exposure to be confident.” Ghana’s Solar Taxi project actively empowers women in a society that places limitations on what women can achieve. The training gives students valuable problem-solving skills and engineering experience. The Female Driver Training Academy teaches local women how to safely operate and maintain electric vehicles. The academy also provides women with the support and education to obtain a driving license and become drivers for Solar Taxi.
  3. Financial Benefits. The Ghanaian startup also proves to be financially viable. Fuel prices in Ghana are already high and recent price increases only put more strain on companies and vehicle owners. The solar-driven technology completely cuts out fuel expenses. The cars that Solar Taxi assembles are used in the driving services it provides and others are made for sale to the public. In doing this, Ghana’s Solar Taxi project is expanding the reach of electric cars and bikes to members of the community. Those without a vehicle can conveniently request a ride with the Solar Taxi app at an affordable price. By making transportation readily available, this service has the potential to reduce poverty rates in Ghana. Whether someone needs to get to a job interview or buy clothes for a new job, Solar Taxi is playing a key role in energizing Ghana’s economy.

Looking Ahead

Though the startup is only a few years old, it is creating significant benefits for citizens. Solar Taxi gives Ghanaian women the opportunity to break gender norms and enter the solar-powered vehicle industry. In addition, the cost-effective energy source is relieving financial burdens in an environmentally conscious manner. Solar Taxi is certainly contributing to a brighter future for Ghana.

– Lucy Gentry
Photo: Flickr

Electricity Access in the SahelOn March 11, 2021, the World Bank approved $22.5 million of funding for the Regional Off-Grid Electricity Access Project (ROGEAP) in the Sahel region of Africa. This region is one of the most impoverished areas in the world and few residents have access to electricity. However, the funding expects to increase electricity access in the Sahel by turning to a new source of energy — solar power.

Electricity Access in Sahel Region

The Sahel region stretches across the Sahara desert and includes the countries of Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, among others. Besides having arid climates, the common denominator for countries in the Sahel region is poverty. None of the countries mentioned above have a GDP per capita of more than $3,000, and with this lack of capital, comes a lack of electricity access. Furthermore, approximately 50% of the 340 million people living in the Sahel region do not have access to electricity, representing one of the lowest modern electricity consumption rates for any region on Earth. Insufficient generation, high petroleum prices and lack of financing for large electricity grids have all contributed to the area’s low connectivity.

This lack of electricity access in the Sahel has had destructive physical and economic effects on regional residents. Several public health centers lack sufficient energy generation, which puts the lives of patients requiring electricity for survival at great risk. Furthermore, rural areas of the Sahel often lack any electricity, forcing residents to use firewood in traditional stoves for cooking, which has led to adverse health effects from smoke inhalation and the dangers of cutting trees for fuel. Even if the electrical grid reaches some rural areas, most families cannot afford the cost. Many countries in the region currently generate more than 90% of their energy from expensive diesel or heavy fuel, which results in high energy costs for both the urban and rural impoverished. Without any policy changes, energy poverty will continue to ravage the Sahel region for the foreseeable future.

Turning to Solar Power Solutions

Thankfully, solar power presents an exciting new possibility for expanding electricity access in the Sahel. Experts see the Sahel as an area with massive solar potential, as many people living there, especially those in rural communities, have access to vast areas of flat land needed for solar panels. Furthermore, off-grid (individually owned) solar power systems present the lowest-cost energy option for 65% of the rural population in the Sahel region. Off-grid power sources are already becoming regional hallmarks as many residents live a significant distance from the power grid. According to the International Energy Agency, about 70% of Africa’s new rural power will come from off-grid power sources by 2040.

Seeing this potential, the World Bank increased funding for the Regional Off-Grid Electricity Access Project (ROGEAP) by $22.5 million. Grants from the International Development Association and the Clean Technology Fund have made this funding possible. The main goal of ROGEAP is to support the development of stand-alone (off-grid) solar products and the advancement of the solar market in a unified effort to boost electricity access in the Sahel. This project will assist in accelerating the deployment of stand-alone solar products, provide credits and grants for off-grid solar home systems and coordinate policies and standards to develop a prosperous regional solar market.

How ROGEAP Will Help

  1. It will provide electricity for public health centers and schools, which will, in turn, improve health and education in the region. The projected increase in the standard of living will likely lead to more people being able to secure well-paying jobs to support themselves and their families.
  2. It will create jobs within the blossoming solar market for people of all skill levels. Transitioning to solar power creates the need for jobs in installation, transportation and infrastructure industries. Additionally, entrepreneurial ventures in solar power will likely sprout from the new funding.
  3. It will improve the output and ease of production for many different jobs. For example, farming communities can use solar water pumps for easier irrigation and milling communities can use new solar milling equipment for more efficient production.

Lighting the Way Forward

By supporting the advancement of stand-alone solar products, ROGEAP aims to enhance electricity access in the Sahel for more than a million residents. The project will increase the use of solar power across the region and subsequently provide electricity for homes, schools, hospitals, farms and small businesses that previously lacked connection. The new funding will likely have a positive impact on health, education and employment in the region for decades to come. If the World Bank and other international agencies hope to continue this endeavor of expanding electricity access in developing regions of the world, projects supporting stand-alone solar power sources like ROGEAP seem to be a winning solution.

Calvin Melloh
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Palestine
The Palestinian territories are in the midst of a devastating energy crisis, leaving millions of people without stable access to electricity. However, the natural features of this region may hold the key to solving this crisis and improve the livelihoods of millions. Unlocking the potential of renewable energy in Palestine will help alleviate the growing carbon footprint of areas like Gaza, as well as fill holes in the already strained power grids that support Gaza and the West Bank.

Energy in Palestine

Palestine has a significant dependence on Israel and neighboring Jordan and Egypt for the majority of its energy demands. However, this system is not viable as a long-term solution. Political instability, population booms, rapid industrialization and increasing demand for higher living standards have put tremendous stress on Palestine’s energy supply. In fact, the cost of energy in Palestine is the highest in the region and the scarcity that growing demand has caused has had a devastating effect on the quality of life and poverty levels in the territories.

Rolling blackouts are now commonplace in both Gaza and the West Bank, denying residents access to essential household appliances, like electric stoves and air conditioning. It also hinders access to means of modernization, such as telecommunications and the internet. According to the United Nations, the average citizen of Gaza has, at best, access to electricity for 12 hours per day when the grid is at its most stable, but political instability can diminish access down to only two hours per day. During the summer and winter, when the strain is higher, residents often experience only three to four hours of electricity per day.

As the population of Palestine grows, especially in dense urban zones along the Gaza strip, the Palestinian authorities will need to find new ways to satisfy rising energy demands. The environment around the Palestinian territories could potentially hold the key to mitigating the existing energy crisis, as well as reduce Palestine’s energy dependency on its neighbors and bolstering the economic viability of Palestine as a more self-sufficient nation. The options for renewable energy in Palestine are plentiful and readily available on the domestic level.

Solar and Geothermal Energy

The two most viable options for renewable energy in Palestine are solar and geothermal energy. With over 300 days of steady sunshine a year, residents of Gaza and the West Bank have increasingly turned towards solar energy as a way to power small, everyday appliances, such as electric fans and other forms of air conditioning. This is especially important during the summer months when temperatures soar. Even relatively simple installations of small solar panels have had an extraordinary effect on living conditions, as residents of Gaza often endure roaming blackouts and inconsistent power access. According to an interview conducted in 2018 by the Reuters news source, one resident of the Nusseirat refugee camp in Gaza reported having no access to electricity in her family’s home until installing solar panels. Now her family is able to keep the air cool in their home with electric fans that solar energy powers.

Organizations and NGOs Helping Provide Solar Energy in Palestine

Several groups and NGOs have already paved the way for the broader use of solar energy in Palestine. Sunshine4Palestine is a great example of how a group can utilize solar energy to help alleviate symptoms of poverty. The project designed and installed a modular plant that provides solar energy to the Jenin Hospital in Gaza, upping its hours of operation from four to 17 hours per day. Sunshine4Palestine has also spearheaded the Tree of Light project, using solar-powered “trees” to harness clean energy and turn it into a way to illuminate public spaces at night, creating safer streets in Gaza.

Comet ME is an Israeli NGO that has been providing solar panels to villages in the West Bank. The village of Shaeb al-Buttim is one such village where panels that Comet installed have supplied electricity to 34 families, who, otherwise, would have no means of accessing the power grid. Such efforts, as in this instance, have revitalized otherwise dying villages, granting them access to television and other forms of media, offering villages such as Shaeb al-Buttim a chance to feel connected to the international community.

Other groups, such as PENGON, Ma’an Development Sector and the Palestinian Hydrology Group have supplied solar panels to over 650 farms and homes in Gaza. They have also helped educate members of the community on ways to participate in creating a sustainable Palestine.

Geothermal Energy

Other methods of harvesting renewable energy in Palestine are also on the horizon. In the last decade, geothermal energy has come to represent an innovative solution for saving on the energy costs of heating homes in the winter and cooling homes in the summer. This method relies on harnessing the natural difference between ground and air temperatures that occur in the summer and winter months.

Despite the conflict and struggles that those advocating for a more energy-independent and sustainable Palestine face, both public and private sectors are actively implementing solutions for the region. The players involved have the determination to push past political boundaries to deliver a more stable Palestine for future populations.

– Jack Thayer
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Nigeria
With more than 80 million citizens living without electricity, renewable energy in Nigeria helps fight energy poverty. Demand for electricity rose throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but the country’s notoriously unreliable energy grid struggled to accommodate the strains of remote work. The Nigerian government’s new Economic Sustainability Plan solves this problem and promises to deliver renewable energy to 25 million Nigerians.

The Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) is Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country first passed it in July 2020 and it outlines 12 months of government spending in the 2021 fiscal year. The government created this plan to stimulate the Nigerian economy through strategic investments in sectors that it hopes will bring the most lasting growth. This is why Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil and gas producer, is choosing to invest in renewable energy. Here are five ways this plan helps to reduce poverty in Nigeria.

5 Ways the Economic Sustainability Plan Reduces Poverty in Nigeria

  1.  Powering Businesses and Homes: The World Bank estimates that Nigeria loses $26.2 billion in economic production due to insufficient electrification. Renewable energy in Nigeria has the potential to change that. Off-grid sources in particular, such as solar panels that directly power homes and businesses, circumvent the frequent power outages that plague Nigeria’s energy grid. The Economic Sustainability Plan helps promote off-grid renewable energy in Nigeria by committing $619 million to the installation of new solar panels directly onto homes that do not currently have a connection to the power grid. The government is also providing subsidies for private firms in the solar industry to encourage even more off-grid solar energy. Not only will this plan give new electricity access to millions of Nigerians, but the government hopes more jobs in the renewable energy sector will give citizens permanent paths out of poverty.
  2. Reducing Dangerous Power Sources: The Economic Sustainability Plan replaces household power sources that endanger Nigerian homes with more efficient renewable solutions. Many who remain disconnected from the energy grid in Nigeria rely on kerosene lanterns for light, which poses toxicity and fire risk to those families. With a plan to install solar in more than 5 million homes, the Economic Sustainability Plan provides safer ways to lift Nigerians out of energy poverty.
  3. Creating Jobs: Nigeria’s plan creates 250,000 new jobs in the booming energy sector to grow the country’s economy. Not only will renewable energy in Nigeria empower communities that do not have access to the energy grid, but this plan stimulates the domestic manufacturing industry. These jobs have the potential to pull thousands of Nigerians out of poverty.
  4. Growing International Partnerships: While the Economic Sustainability Plan focuses on improving the lives of Nigerians, the formulation of the plan strengthens Nigeria’s ties to the international community. Approximately 15% of the funding for this plan comes from external sources, primarily from the World Bank. Making use of foreign aid strengthens the ties that the Nigerian economy has with international partners and generates more opportunities for future projects that help battle global poverty. An example of this is the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) program that Nigeria signed with the World Bank. This program gave $750 million in credits to Nigerian states in 2018, and now the federal government is encouraging states to negotiate additional funding from the World Bank to supplement the Economic Sustainability Plan in 2021 using the guidelines of the SFTAS.
  5. COVID-19 Economic Recovery: Due to the country’s dependence on oil and gas exports, the pandemic severely weakened Nigeria’s economy. The Brookings Institute estimates that the oil sector alone accounts for half of all government revenue in Nigeria, but the impact of COVID-19 led to an approximately 30% drop in oil prices. This means that Nigeria’s oil GDP has consistently declined over the past year, leading to significant damage to the Nigerian economy overall. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic requires the Nigerian government to stimulate the economy. Part of the Economic Sustainability Plan targets assistance to renewable energy companies in hopes that the Nigerian economy will become less dependent on oil. Low-interest government loans, equipment financing and revenue-based repayment plans will grow the industry and contribute to the broader Nigerian economy.

Looking Ahead

Renewable energy in Nigeria provides a foundation for economic growth that includes underserved parts of the country. The Economic Sustainability Plan capitalizes on this potential and expands energy access, jobs and economic recovery with the power of renewables. Nigerians who could not benefit from the economic advantages of electricity access due to systematic exclusion from the grid should be able to leave poverty as a result.

– Viola Chow
Photo: Wikipedia Commons