Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Off Grid Solar Light: A Viable Option to Promote Acceptance in Rural Developing Countries

Industry experts believe that solar light is one of the basic needs which could improve living conditions in rural developing countries. These areas have no access to electricity. The benefits of solar light encompass the field of education, health, economy and the quality of life of rural folks. The need for practical and applicable source of light should be searched and solar should be seriously considered.

The Problem

Are the rural folks fully convinced of the practicality and benefits of solar technology? If this question is not answered satisfactorily we have an acceptance problem and won’t get enthusiastic response.

Opinions vary on how solar light can be made available to the poor of developing countries. Some experts say that it should be off grid with the home solar panels likewise supplying power for TV, radio, cellphones, and other appliances.

Other proponents believe that solar power should be generated by a big array of solar panels and a grid built to distribute solar electricity to homes. These are sound propositions. In fact, these options have been tried in a number of developing countries but sadly not one claimed success.

What are the barriers to the acceptance of solar? Generally known are the high acquisition cost, lack of subsidy or financing, lack of trained personnel for after sales service, lack of local supplies and acceptability by the rural folks. Can solar light overcome these barriers?

The Role of Solar Light

A single off grid solar light can pave the way for wide scale adoption of solar energy in rural third world countries. How? Seven reasons:
1. It provides the simplest, most economical, applicable and practical demonstration the rural folks can see.
2. It provides a substitute to kerosene for lighting which is growing more expensive being a petroleum product.
3. Rural folks will find solar light more economical to use with free power from the sun. They will have extra cash for food and other needs of the family.
4. It is likewise healthful and safe to use than kerosene fueled lamps.
5. It is affordable. One foundation in Kenya sells it for US $ 35 per unit.
6. Subsidy or financing will not be a big constraint since the amount involve per family is small.
7. Since it is a simple individual gadget, training people for after sales service may not be a big problem.

The Solution

The many applications of solar power may be difficult for rural people to fully comprehend. There is a need to give solar energy in small doses for them to understand and see the benefits. A single off grid solar light is a logical start to convince them. At this stage, what is important is that a breakthrough into the household is initiated. Then the proponents can move on to the next level of solar application ones acceptance is established.

Rural folks believe that they should be shown that the technology works and improves their way of life. To them, to see is to believe. And we have to satisfy this perception. A demonstration is in order in this case.

The Use Solar, Save Lives Project

Special mention is made of the above Project founded by Evan Wadongo, a Kenyan engineer. He designed MwangaBora Solar Powered Lantern and distribute for free to the poor rural communities. Attesting to its applicability, some 15,000 lamps have been turned out since production started in 2004. Wadongo says his goal is to hit 100,000 by 2015. He plans to extend his project to other countries and is already training interns.

This is a Project worth serious consideration and hopefully foundations come across to lend a helping hand. Study and adoption by developing countries will boost acceptance of solar energy in rural areas where it is badly needed. Evan Wadongo concluded, "If every one of us started thinking about others before thinking about ourselves the world would be better,"


  1. This is really awesome! I am triying slowly to do the same thing in my country of Paraguay. Hopefully I will be as successful as MR. Wadogo.
    for more info check:

  2. Awesome indeed. Such initiatives should be taken throughout the world so that everyone can benefit from this wonderful invention.
    I purchased a Solar lantern from NIMH Technolinks( around 7 months back and since then the lamp has served me well. I am a camper by passion and my lifestyle include a lot of camping, where the solar lamp serves me well. Also it has a mobile charging port which helps me charge my cellphone when camping. Solar lantern sure is an amazing device and i really believe it should be available for one and all.

  3. Here's how to cut your power bill by 75%:

    Want to know how to easily produce all of the renewable energy you could ever want right at home?

    And you’ll be able to make your home completely immune from power outages, blackouts, and energy grid failures
    so even if everyone else in your area (or even the whole country) loses power…you won’t.


  4. You may be qualified for a new solar energy rebate program.
    Find out if you're qualified now!