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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters on solar energy

Access to electricity can provide significant socio-economic, health and environmental benefits, such as new income-generating opportunities, better illumination for school-related studying, extended productive hours in the home, and reduced indoor air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Yet only 2% of rural Africans have access to the grid. The sun is a source of free, clean and renewable energy, and solar power is plentiful in Africa. Many businesses and aid organizations promote solar power, and some governments are also embracing and supporting the technology. But solar panels can be expensive to install. The challenge is to find forms of solar power which are both useful and affordable for rural people. Examples might include solar-powered radios, solar-powered battery chargers, and solar-powered lamps. The stories featured this week provide two answers to the challenge of solar power for rural communities.

Organizations working on solar power include:

Lighting Africa – a joint World Bank and International Finance Program initiative aiming to bring modern off-grid lighting to 2.5 million people in Africa by 2012. Read how they intend to do it here: http://www.lightingafrica.org/

SolarAid is an NGO working in rural areas across East and Southern Africa: http://solar-aid.org/

Practical Action’s webpage on solar power has links to further resources: http://www.practicalaction.org/solar_power

This diagram contains some interesting facts and figures about electricity supply and use in Africa: http://www.good.is/post/african-electricity-and-renewable-energy/

Here are some recent features and stories from Kenya and Senegal about solar power in rural areas:

Senegalese Villages Turn to Solar Power http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Senegalese-Villages-Turning-to-Solar-Power-121635729.html

-Kenya: African Huts Far From the Grid Glow With Renewable Power

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/25/science/earth/25fossil.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a2

And finally, here are some discussion pieces about the future of solar power in Africa: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/01/a-solar-strategy-for-africa

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/06/kenya-bets-big-on-renewable-energy

http://www.africanews.com/site/Africa_should_harness_renewable_resources/list_messages/37697

Farm Radio International has produced one script on solar power:

-SolarAid’s micro solar project in rural Tanzania: Tremendous solar energy potential. Package 87, Script 6, April 2009. http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/87-6script_en.asp

These stories may inspire you to research the use and potential of solar power in your region. You could start by finding out how far the electrical grid penetrates into rural areas in your region. Find out whether this electrical supply is reliable. Which areas have little or no electricity? Ask residents what difference electricity would make in their lives. Contact local NGOs and talk to local businesses that use solar power or sell solar-powered devices. Investigate the different needs of urban and rural populations, and seek suggestions on how these needs are being or could be met.

One Response to “Notes to broadcasters on solar energy”

  1. mark farahani Says:

    i liket the rural solar electricity.i would like to learn more on the followings
    -funding issues
    – capability of the solar-can it run say computer,tv at a go
    -what more do they use it for
    -rural eleictricity is a vital problem here too
    thanks
    mark

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