HARGEISHA, Somaliland — Somaliland acquired independence after the collapse of the Somali Central Government during the 1991 Civil War. Although the United Nations has not recognized Somaliland yet, it continues to be an autonomous state with an established democratic government.
This region has faced its fair amount of struggles over the years. However, Borax Energy is providing electricity in Somaliland that could impact the country’s future for the better.
Somaliland Dims: Violence, Poverty, and Little Foreign Aid
Despite the constant economic development efforts, Somaliland ranked fourth smallest GDP in the world in 2012 at $1.4 billion. An estimated 28 percent of the urban population and 38 percent of the rural population live in poverty. Little foreign aid reaches its residents mainly because of the area’s reputation for violence.
As a child growing up in Somaliland, Abdishakur Mohamoud did not have access to electricity until he was 11 years old. When his family first bought a single electric lamp, they considered it as a true luxury item and he and his siblings used it to study only.
Once Mohamoud attended high school in Somalia, he realized that energy scarcity was a dire problem affecting nearly 650 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. In Somaliland, many households depend on kerosene lamps and stoves. These methods require expensive fuel, but also let off deadly gases.
Qorax Energy Burns Bright
With American cofounders Christian Desrosiers and Nigel Carr, Mohamoud entered the energy market. They created Qorax Energy thanks to a generous Great Energy Challenge grant. Qorax works with local management groups to develop and distribute renewable energy devices, such as solar-powered lights, throughout the developing world. Since the cost of electricity is incredibly high in sub-Saharan Africa — for Mohamoud, it is $1 per kilowatt hour — solar lamps are a cost effective substitute.
Mohamoud himself visits several villages across Somaliland to sell Qorax products. His initial doubt that these struggling communities could not afford quality products led to the creation of a financing program that allows buyers to pay in smaller installments – a literal and affordable way to create light in Somaliland.
The lights Mohamoud sells are worth every penny. With a reliable and clean light source, farmers in Somaliland are able to work their land after the harsh sun sets. Also, light discourages hyenas from attacking their animals. This allows both agriculture and livestock production to increase, which accounts for half of Somaliland’s GDP.
In 2014, Qorax teamed with Gollis University in Somaliland to train engineers in renewable energy entrepreneurship. By training students to address energy problems in poor communities, Qorax hopes to expand energy infrastructure across the country. These methods help both energy-scarce villages and local professionals.
In the future, Qorax hopes to address the problem of kerosene stoves and open fires. These are commonly used methods to cook meals indoors in the region. They are, also, directly linked to millions of deaths from air pollution in Africa and Southeast Asia. Mohamoud’s venture of supplying light in Somaliland will soon change and save numerous lives.
– Emiliano Perez