Solar energy in Africa

Solar energy in Africa

Africa is the land of infinite natural resources, and it is obviously shocking to note that apart from the conspicuous states of Egypt and South Africa, most of the continent is lost in darkness because of the fact that rural areas still are unconnected to centralized electricity grids. One is bound to be bewildered at the prevalent situations in the well endowed continent, where the rural masses find it hard to even imagine the concept of electricity! The big change, however, came to the continent in the beginning of the last decade of the twentieth century, when the idea of solar powered electricity generation started gaining popularity and began to penetrate deep into the rural networks.

Before the above mentioned times, the African families were used to the traditional energy sources for lighting. Biomass and wood were the chief ingredients of their energy charts. Consequently, the stress on forests kept on increasing with the widespread chopping of trees for the wood needs. Solar power generation presented itself as an alternative to this trend, and the situation has been far brighter than that in the old times.

The underlying principle for solar energy is extremely well applicable to the African continent, most of which receives considerable sunshine throughout the year. Sun is a free energy source, and a colossal source at that. Churning out clean and green energy in abundance, the sun has played the role of a savior for the people of rural Africa. Solar panel systems are being installed in rural and suburban households that are not part of centralized electricity grids. Though the initial set up costs of these panels is high, but the prospect of the future are so bright that people do not need to be convinced to endorse solar energy. In fact, the response to government sponsored solar energy programs that aim at including the highest possible number of rural households in the solar electricity ambit is so great that there are instances of the supply falling behind the demand of solar panels.

It is interesting to note that solar energy also finds the attention of the well developed urban centers which acknowledge the benefits offered by this green energy alternative. The cost of buying a solar electricity system capable of powering six rooms along with equipment like television sets is anything between $600 to $1000. This is obviously beyond the buying powers of most African households, but the strong support from interest free loan schemes and finance options instated by the government acts as a binding thread for all the disjointed pieces. Countries like Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia shine on the solar power map of the African continent, and other countries that have similar geographical and economic models derive hope from the same. Another great push that solar energy has given to the economics of the African continent is through the coming up of several small businesses being run on solar power, like maize grinding stations.

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