Rural Pulse: Why Solar Energy is Slightly Uncommon
Some 10 months ago, world leaders and development advocates adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will provide a roadmap to development activities in the next fifteen years. One of the goals is the SDG7 –which seeks to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.
In Africa, where more 600 million people are still off grid –without access to electricity, Azuri Technologies, a commercial provider of PayGo solar home systems to rural off-grid households, is addressing the problem of energy access by combining solar and mobile technology to allow customers to access clean and safe energy and consumer devices on a pay-as-you-go basis.
This week on Rural Pulse, we spoke with Azuri Regional Manager, Snehar Shah. Mr Snehar brings 20 years of expertise in investment, finance, and business development to Azuri. Until recently, he was Regional Chief Financial Officer of mobile towers business, Eaton Towers. In this chat, he explains why it is difficult for many to access clean energy in rural Africa.
According to Mr Shah, “The upfront cost of renewable technologies remains the major factor prohibiting widespread adoption in emerging markets. For example, a typical rural famer in sub Saharan Africa earning $2-3 USD per day would struggle to afford a basic $70 solar system. Moreover, while their household is spending $2-4 per week on a combination of kerosene for lighting and phone charging services, their ability to save is severely limited. Many are locked into a poverty trap, where the cost of ineffective, non-renewable power prevents access to the technologies that provide cleaner power, more cheaply. The AzuriPayGo system stands out clearly from retail solar products in its accessibility and applicability for rural, off-grid users, providing customers with access to solar power without a high upfront cost.”