Financial Aspects of Stand-alone Solar Power Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa
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Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have struggled with low electrification rates in rural areas. This research examines various methods of achieving higher rural electrification rates. Among the factors that impede rural electrification via extension of the grid include high connection costs and locations that are a long distance from the grid. Other renewable energy technologies such as small hydropower and small wind home systems also have high initial costs and are limited to implementation under specific geographic conditions. The rise in popularity of solar PV systems has provided a viable option for many rural residents. Although initial costs may be high similar to the other technologies, vendors have put in place mechanisms for payment by installments that makes the technology affordable for a larger proportion of the population. However, repayment terms are still short (mostly within a year); therefore the monthly payments may still be out of reach for some. The modular nature of solar PV systems is also beneficial since users can buy lower capacity components and add on to their system over time. The key findings suggest that extension of the payment period for solar PV systems would make the technology more affordable for a larger segment of the population. In addition, it proposes future collaboration between solar companies that offer pay-as-yougo financing solutions with informal financial arrangement groups commonly referred to as Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) or Accumulating Savings and Credit Associations (ASCAs). These partnerships will provide a wider platform to educate rural residents on the benefits of solar lighting and to encourage members to purchase these products for their homes.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Technologies for achieving rural electrification -- Solar photovoltaic technology -- Components of a sustainable solar PV system -- Case studies for pay-as-you-go solar lighting systems -- Conclusion and future work -- Appendix A. Electricity access rates in Africa in 2012 -- Appendix B. Indigo Duo solar home system specifications -- Appendix C. SunnyMoney solar lighting options