As many of us in more developed countries go about our daily lives we are largely insulated from many of the problems that plague the world. We take such things as running water and electricity for granted despite the fact that in many places in the world these two things are still not a given. Without electricity it’s hard for many people to do the things that will help them get further ahead economically. There is however new ‘light being shed’ on this problem literally, as off the grid starts to make its mark economically in some developing nations.

The Grid Problems in East Africa and Other Developing Nations 

Why do parts of the countries in East Africa and other developing nations around the world not have grid electrical service? It has everything to do with money for infrastructure. It costs a lot of money to build power plants and erect the power lines to transmit that electricity over vast distances. Countries such as those in East Africa simply cannot afford to build power plants that serve their rural communities. 

Even if East African countries could build power plants and transmission lines, there is no certainty they would stay working long with insurgent and other dissident groups that plague the area too. So countries in East Africa and elsewhere in Africa need a different electric solution and off grid solar may just provide them with that solution. 

Currently across rural populations, not only in Africa but in other places such as Asia too; over one billion people find themselves without access grid electric power. That makes for a huge opportunity for those involved in off grid solar power systems manufacturing. 

What the Off Grid Solar Electric Study Shows? 

This study was conducted by collecting data in the spring of 2019 from some 2300 small scale off grid solar owners in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.  

There are some very interesting numbers that come from the study done by the UK’s DfID. One of the most significant of which is that almost 60% of those who use individual off grid solar systems have either taken on a new money making enterprise or improved their own economic situation in ways such as getting a new job. 

Other statistics that came from the study show that on average the homes with individual solar systems improved their income on average of $35 USD per month. Some of this income gain was because many household solar users were now able to comfortably work longer into the evening with better lighting. 

Off Grid Solar Provides Cleaner and Safer Living Conditions Too 

Not only is off grid individual solar systems helping people in East Africa better their chances financially but it’s also making their current living conditions safer and healthier too. That’s because many people in these off grid rural areas previously relied on such things as oil and fuel to feed the flames of the lamps they used to see with at night. The smoke from these fuel sources is fairly toxic and very bad for adults and especially children to breathe. 

With off grid solar, these people can now string wires and lights so they no longer have to burn harmful liquids in order to have light at night. 

Solar Use Continues To Grow In Ways We Never Expected 

When you read interpretations of studies like the one GOGLA put forth it really does put off grid solar use in perspective. Solar is now starting to prove itself very helpful and in ways that we never expected years ago. As the price of photovoltaic solar panels comes down and more affordable solar batteries are produced, the possibilities for off grid solar systems become virtually endless. The economic impact felt by off grid solar users in East African developing nations is certainly proof of that. 

 Sources: 

https://www.pv-tech.org/news/solar-increasing-economic-activity-in-east-african-households

https://www.gogla.org/powering-opportunity-the-economic-impact-of-off-grid-solar

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