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“Adopt-a-Village” Renewable Energy Initiative


This innovatively funded venture aims to reduce rural Nigerians’ dependency on kerosene and wood for cooking and lighting. The “Adopt-a-Village” Renewable Energy Initiative is making portable solar lanterns and clean cook stoves available in villages across Nigeria. This initiative reduces carbon emissions while improving the health and economic prospects of the villagers.

Fast facts:

  • 1,000 solar kits disbursed to date, reducing dependency on greenhouse gas emitting kerosene lanterns
  • Five different rural communities participating in pilot projects
  • 774 total communities envisioned for participation

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The problem

More than 60 percent of Nigeria’s total population lacks access to the electrical grid. In rural areas, this could be as high as 95 percent. Rural communities are dependent on kerosene lanterns to provide light after the sun has set, while more than 80 percent of the population relies on burning wood or other biomass for cooking. Women and children spend hours seeking out fuel for cooking, while the burning of kerosene and wood releases greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. In terms of direct health impacts, more than 100,000 people die in Nigeria annually as a result of inhaling smoke from cook fires.

Although use of solar-powered lamps and efficient cook stoves could alleviate these problems, the low quality of available products, lack of available financing and low acceptance in village communities remain barriers to their widespread use.


The solution

This initiative is seeking sponsors who will “adopt a village” with funding that is then matched by Nigeria’s United Nations Development Programme. With the donations, Blue Ocean Energy – an official distributor of certified high-quality products – purchases solar kits, which a microfinance institution then offers to villagers. Villagers make weekly payments, set below the price of their weekly kerosene and wood spending, to eventually own the kits after four to six months. Profits are fed back into the scheme, toward the eventual goal of self-sufficiency in funding.

The “Adopt-a-Village” Renewable Energy Initiative has already been working with village leaders and key community members to promote acceptance of the new technology among entire villages.

Helping the planet

Replacing kerosene lanterns with solar ones, and wood fires with efficient cook stoves, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This can also prevent deforestation and reduce air pollution.


Helping people

In the long run, villagers save money through transitioning from kerosene and wood fire to solar and efficient cook stoves. Deaths from indoor smoke inhalation are prevented. Women and girls, who do most of the wood gathering, also save time they can devote to other endeavors. Education is enhanced, as children are able to read later into the night. The initiative could even stimulate the economy, as adults are able to sell at markets and stores for more hours. And finally, vending, maintenance, and repairs of the technology creates village-level employment.


Spillover effect

The initial village pilot project is now being carried out in four additional communities, demonstrating how the initiative can be replicated. Rather than relying on charity and contributions that could run dry, the project’s funding scheme presents a financially self-sustainable business model. And since the villagers must buy the kits – rather than receive them donated – they attach value to them, becoming convinced by the investment and spreading its reach within and among communities.


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