Solar

How Can We Get Solar Components and Assistance in Nigeria?

How best do we get international agencies, organization, manufacturers, vendors, and individuals to be part of our developmental effort through financial assistance or donation of solar components? – Thanks, Ona O., Lagos, Nigeria (The small system I use at home as an alternative energy source is working so well given the fact I am using solar electricity now as there is a power outage. I also head Renewable Energy Development Initiative, a nongovernmental organization based in Nigeria to provide solar electricity to rural communities for lighting, radios, computers and access to the Internet, provision of clean water, refrigeration of vaccine and solar cooking and drying.)

Ona, Thank you for advising me on your organization and that you are sending me this e-mail by solar during a power outage. Because of the state of the market and the maturity of the solar industry, you are not going to get free equipment. In fact, many of us believe that giving free equipment delays the creation of a sustainable market that must nurture sellers and distributors. There are many programs at multilateral entities such as The World Bank Group that could help such as the International Finance Corporation (directly accessible by businesses) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), which needs central government’s active support. The United Nations sponsored REEEP program has just announced awards in Africa (www.reeep.org) and may also be applicable to your program. Other programs such as microlending, where consumers pay very small monthly payments to acquire renewable energy systems are quite successful, and NGOs such as the Solar Electric Light Fund (www.self.org) have been very successful as is E&CO (www.energyhouse.com), which assists start-up entrepreneurs — both nonprofits are very active in Africa. Some private sector companies have also been in the forefront of “pay as you go” such as World Water and Power’s (NJ) municipal water pumping system on Sebu (The Phillipines), which uses swipe cards by consumers who can add funds to receive more municipal water from the solar-powered system. My best advice is to begin working to create local entrepreneurs and customer groups and jointly work with experienced NGO’s to access international and private funding programs. I wish you much luck, for there is no reason why over three billion people, one half of the planet, does not have reliable electricity 24 hours each day, clean water, and the needed energy for healthcare, education and business creation. The ‘front line’ work you are doing is vitally important. Best regards, Scott Sklar