Electrifying Africa- Why Now?
Lack of infrastructure in rural communities means that 85% of Africans will never be connected to the national grid. Although this reality sees most communities without power, it’s a reality that’s slowly changing.
With the recent and continuing tech evolution, more people than ever have access to mobile technology. This technological climate has created a space in which alternative technology is able to thrive. Ongoing innovation in this space combined with a high demand for more reliable power sources is allowing less established areas in Africa to use electricity in their daily lives.
Solar Leads the Way
With the more recent adoption of solar power in developed countries, competitive pricing for solar panels makes this renewable energy source almost as accessible as electricity. Its recent competitiveness in the western world has fueled a cycle of increased spending on development, which developing countries now reap the financial benefit of. Coupled with new mobile payment systems both the infrastructure and pricing models make solar power more easily accessible to those most in need.
New Tech, Better Price
Recent developments have seen a trend in introducing new and cheaper pricing structures to the market. Companies like Tesla use lithium ion batteries to make power more accessible. This technology uses low-cost, high-capacity batteries that store energy from the sun in order to use power at night. The basic battery technology enables greater battery capacity per dollar bringing power to many African homes. Other start-up ventures like Standard Microgrid and Off-grid Electric create solutions that are more financially accessible and understandable than traditional pricing methods.
The Financial Future of Power
With the expansion of independent electricity systems and peer to peer transactions, Blockchain is the most logical solution to regulating the growth of Africa’s energy infrastructure. Mostly visible through Bitcoin, it has the potential to document supply, demand, and pricing on small and fluctuating scales. Blockchain can manage and register deals in the middle of transactions helping to optimise every home’s generation, storage, and demand across national and international grids. Although years from fully realising its potential, this type of system could represent the future of community-managed power systems, especially in developing countries.
Those once without power are seeking power off the grid. Their entrepreneurial and community-focused efforts are certainly fueling the expansion of the energy sector. African countries are now not only areas of opportunity but hotbeds for innovation.