An estimated two billion people lack direct access to electricity networks, meaning that the twenty-four hour electricity that is present in all developed countries is a distant and unobtainable luxury to nearly a third of the world’s population. It is also now evident that mass electrical supply through grid networks is no longer a realistic and feasible reality for much of the world’s population. Furthermore, the worldwide threat of climate change is becoming increasingly apparent, as the international community realizes the need to dramatically change the way it is developing and living if its impacts are to be minimized. The promotion and dissemination of solar power can help to address the above, by providing innovative energy solutions for remote communities, while also reflecting a development strategy that is sensitive to global environmental concerns.
Small scale solar installation projects offer a direct, safe and environmentally friendly way to provide modern electricity to communities across West Africa. With solar, community health clinics can have vaccine fridges, schools can hold night-classes, individuals can listen to radios, water can be pumped for agriculture, and households can be lit up; meanwhile burdens such as water and fuel collecting are dramatically reduced. Localised mini-grids build on the advantages of small scale installations while allowing for greater development opportunities for entire communities. With general energy service delivery businesses and households can choose their own development path, without the hinderance of limited energy access.
Solar power is an appropriate technology to engage with and improve the livelihoods of West African communities, while also being reflective of the global need to have a development process which has a minimal impact on global environmental commons. EFO’s work with solar is thus a reflection of a development strategy that is appreciative of both local and global concerns.