Is Solar the Answer to Keeping the Lights on in Africa

By Dylan Gansen

Africa solar At this point, the following statement has become a cliche: Most of us living in first world nations have been able to take our utilities for granted.  Even if we may occasionally argue with family members or roommates over last month’s water or electric bill being so high, we at least have access to those luxuries.  We’re at the point where we are trying to find other methods to obtain these resources, not for our own survival, but for the longevity of the ecosystem that we inhabit.

Rural Africans, among many other unfortunate souls living in severe poverty throughout the world, do not enjoy the same comfort that we do.  While we invest in solar technology because it is the greener option, some in Africa have turned to it because it seems to be one of the only options.  According to the BBC article Rural Rwanda is Home to a Pioneering New Solar Power Idea, the UK-based company BBOXX has provided affordable solar power to roughly 130,000 homes within 4 years.

Source: Flickr/Statsministerens kontor
Providing impoverished Africans with solar power doesn’t come without its critics, however.  Microsoft founder Bill Gates says that solar power is far from the best solution to providing affordable power to Africa.  He insists that hydro power and geothermal are the renewable resources that need to be invested in as we make our way to affordable energy that can be provided to everyone.