1.1 billion people across the world do not have access to electricity, in this figure, over 600 million are living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Left unaddressed, these statistics convey a sombre future for many underprivileged individuals living on our continent. Without electricity, farmers cannot process their crops, add value or diversify their livelihoods. In schools and homes, children struggle to study without light and are cut off from modern technology, this often leads to high drop-out and participation rates in schools. Health clinics and particularly maternity wards are limited in the care they can provide, and women and infants can suffer and die as a result of a lack of basic necessities.
People living in rural areas particularly grapple with these challenges as national grids often do not extend into their areas. An unserviced rural population limits the potential growth of various African countries, as rural to urban migration increases. Although urban migration can be positive through exposure to modernity access to essentials, African cases often showcase the negative effects of this movement: It deprives rural areas of labor in agricultural areas. The prices of commodities, housing and transport in urban areas increase as a result of the migration. It increases the rate of unemployment in urban areas since not all people who come to town to seek employment will be employed. It causes economic decline in rural areas because the resources are not utilized due to labor shortage.
Providing power to rural African communities is not a task for one entity. Multiple stakeholders such as government, private businesses as well as the local community need to deliberately “buy in” to the mission of providing solutions.
Samansco-Solarquest has worked on the Access to Energy Programme (A2E) with Schneider Electric, which looks to alleviate some of the above mentioned challenges, through providing sustainable renewable energy solutions. Initiatives such as A2E have attracted large investment and highlight an eagerness from stakeholders to supply underserved rural populations. Pay-as-you-go solar has attracted $750 million in investment over the past five years, mini-grids are gaining traction with hefty donor funding allocated across the continent and public sector electrification efforts by national governments are intensifying.
Samansco-Solarquest is looking to go beyond providing lighting and power solutions. We want to engage our partners into providing long-term sustainable “productive energy” solutions. Through the construction of a portfolio of innovative product energy enterprise initiatives; we have a vision to support rural farmers as well as re-igniting SME development on the continent. By providing productive access to energy solutions, the untapped potential of the rural economy can finally be realized and give birth to a revolution of self-sustainability.