“We are more than happy, because we don’t have power cuts in our system,” says Rafiqul Islam, a resident of Islampur in northern Bangladesh and one of 15 million Bangladeshis whose homes are powered by solar. “For those who are connected with the national grid, blackouts are regular,” he adds.
In Zanzibar, local resident Kanoa Sharif Haji says that LED lights powered by rooftop solar have enabled her to significantly raise her family’s income because she can weave at night.
John Pambio, a 24-year-old resident of Kajiado, Kenya says that access to electricity through a solar microgrid project enables him to use electrical tools for the first time at his electronics repair business and avoid having to turn away jobs. The connection fee to the solar panel hub is $12, compared to the $385 residents would have to pay for national grid access (if it was in reach).
These are a few examples of increasingly frequent and compelling testimonials from residents, business owners, officials and others in developing countries on the benefits of obtaining and providing electricity access through clean energy sources, especially solar. Of course, amid the constant current of internet and email content, some may remain unseen, buried in longer articles, or become quickly forgotten and hard to find again — here today, gone tomorrow. So we’ve begun compiling such stories together in a simple visual ‘digital-poster’ style website called CleanEnergyAccess.org. Assembled together in a collage — from different countries and continents and with photos, facts, and source links — it a leaves an impression as you scroll and becomes an easy-to-bookmark resource.
Particularly at a time when a struggling coal industry is positioning itself through disingenuous PR as the answer to global energy poverty, experiences in developing countries with clean energy’s affordability, speed, reliability, convenience, and economic benefit speak volumes. They speak as well to those making financial and political decisions about how much investment for energy access will flow into renewables vs. fossil fuels — choices which may also in turn affect commitments at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference and beyond.
We hope that CleanEnergyAccess.org serves many organizations as a useful resource to both point to and draw from in their work, and we look forward to suggestions for more content to include. Just use the ‘contact us’ form on the site or email us at info (at) cleanenergyaccess (dot) org.