Elias Kost, Joel Jeanloz
Antenna Foundation Switzerland
End of Project:
Solafrica is a Non-Government Organization (NGO), which was founded in Bern, Switzerland in 2009. Its main objective is solar energy and energy efficiency promotion in Africa. Antenna Foundation Switzerland is the most important partner regarding technological development. They have developed the innovative portable mini solar system Oolux; designed to meet the needs of the people living in off-grid areas. The company taktwerk GmbH planned and developed the ICT solution.
More than half of the population in Cameroon has no access to the electricity grid. Thus, people have to rely on traditional and low-technology options to light homes and charge mobile phones. With this project, Solafrica wanted to ensure access to clean and cost-effective off-grid solar energy by developing a community-based leasing and distribution system. The pilot phase permitted to examine the feasibility of the system and provided a basis for decision-making, in order to continue the project. The program involved the Swiss partners, a local company, as well as the village shops and their customers.
1,100 solar kits that were sold provide light for about 6,000 people. Advantages (such as improved health, access to electricity and financial savings) for the users have been observed. More light is visible in the villages at night. It is estimated that each lamp prevents between 0.355 and 1 ton of CO2 emissions per year. The technical ICT solution for leasing the Oolux lamp was developed. Three different business and sustainable distribution models were tested, as well.
The model of relying on the cocoa cooperatives’ network for solar lamp sales has been identified as the most promising. Besides Cameroon, it has also begun to be implemented in Mali and Burkina Faso. More and more cooperatives say they want to be integrated in the solar lamp distribution network that Antenna has been set up in this project. Valuable lessons learned and recommendations for projects in a similar market are available in the final report.