NAIROBI, Kenya – Private industry and greater society is calling for comprehensive energy solutions to spur economic growth. The Africa Report cites that 70% of African entrepreneurs blame this lack of power for a stagnant economy. A multitude of power firms have stepped up to try to fill the void, some finding pockets of success. What has become abundantly clear however is that if electricity is to become a consistent part of African life, it must be delivered through a combination of foreign policy legislation and the private sector.
Beginning in 2000 with the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), the U.S. has shifted its focus from simply providing aid to establishing investment and trade partnerships. The Electrify Africa Act currently going through Congress is set to help provide Africans with electricity to enhance their economy and thereby bolster trade.
Some of the options on the table to power Africa include renewable sources like solar power. Companies like M-Kopa have already stepped into the fold to take full advantage of the growing opportunities. M-Kopa is a Kenyan-based mobile-tech company that aids its customers in acquiring solar energy solutions. Starting in 2011, the firm has been “…providing affordable solar power to over 15,000 Kenyan households and adding close to 1,000 more every week …through more than 500 retail shops nationwide.” The company is providing power to the African consumer by letting them own their means of power.
M-Kopa is following a rapidly growing feeling among Africans who want solar power. According to Fortune and CNN, “In 2004, the African renewable energy sector was valued at $750 million. By 2011, it reached $3.6 billion. …the U.N. projected that by 2020 the value of the African renewable energy sector would reach $57 billion.” The market and upstart solar firms like M-Kopa are rising to the occasion. However, some firms are not as advanced as others and offer a subpar, less affordable product. Others, many from China, do not hold up for long and amount to wasted consumer dollars. To earn trust, many firms are now offering payment plans and even home financing.
Offering the d.light solar home system on a highly affordable payment plan, M-Kopa has made energy independence possible for many Kenyan households. D.light is a social enterprise operating in over 40 nations and is dedicated to bringing great quality solar energy products to consumers via retail outlets. D.light hopes to serve at least 100 million customers by 2020, a goal that is achievable with their strategic M-Kopa partnership and legislation like AGOA and the Electrify Africa Initiative.
– David Smith