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Solar Lighting in Rural Ethiopia – Ethiopia

This initiative establishes solar centers across Ethiopia to spread the technology to remote regions of the country. “Solar Lighting in Rural Ethiopia,” which also includes a central solar school and competence center, trains people in the solar trade and provides financing for families who can’t afford to pay for the solar devices up front. The project improves the lives of people who live in the countryside, while preventing pollution from dirtier power sources.

Fast facts:

  • 11 solar centers established in Ethiopian villages
  • 22,000 solar home systems installed
  • The program aims to reduce 160,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over 10 years

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The problem

Among the many rural households in Ethiopia that have no access to the electrical grid, the prevalent form of lighting is kerosene lamps. These are mostly low-efficiency wick lamps. These lamps emit black carbon that contributes to global warming and causes indoor pollution. Since women do most of the housework in many rural parts of Ethiopia, they suffer disproportionately from dirty indoor air. Kerosene costs can also comprise a significant portion of household expenses.

The solution

This project makes solar lighting systems accessible to rural Ethiopian households through setting up solar centers in villages across the country. The solar centers manage the sale, distribution, installation, and maintenance of the solar systems, as well as offering training and revolving fund microloans to households that cannot afford to pay for the solar home systems on their own. Kerosene lamps are replaced with solar photovoltaic lighting systems that employ efficient LEDs.

The program has also established an international solar energy school in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, where solar engineers are being trained, particularly for rural electrification. Solar technicians who graduate are able to start up their own small solar businesses in villages. An accompanying solar competence center in Addis Ababa offers training, product development, testing, and assembly to ensure that know-how will be developed and used in Ethiopia.

Helping the planet

Replacing kerosene lamps with solar lighting reduces black carbon emissions, preventing further climate change. Cleaner air also contributes to healthier ecosystems, benefiting plants and animals as well.

Helping people

Cleaner indoor air prevents respiratory disease, particularly among women. Those who use the systems detailed less coughing, reduction of soot in the nose, and cleaner walls. Villagers can also see easier at night, reducing stress on the eyes. Families with the solar systems have reported that children are more motivated to read and learn.

Women have said that they are able do more and different kinds of work – with solar light, their working hours are more flexible and allow for breaks during the hottest parts of the day. Women who are mainly occupied with housework in the daytime are now able to do productive work in the evening, thereby creating income for the family. The project also provides employment in the form of small solar businesses.

Spillover effect

The project’s goal is to cover the entire country with a network of solar centers. Training solar technicians allows the technology to spread beyond its initial scope, particularly in remote rural areas.





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