January 12, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Secretary of the Renewable Energy Association of Sierra Leone has maintained that the use of solar energy by people would help in saving families’ money, as well as help businesses to thrive.
Sam Zoker was speaking recently during a series of solar fairs and activities held across the country by GIZ, Endev, Power for All, Barefoot Women and REASL to raise awareness about the power of decentralised solar energy as part of the Sierra Leone Energy Revolution.
While recognising the fact that not many people were aware that modern solar lights and products for homes and businesses exist, Zoker stated that making sure people were aware of the opportunity to switch to a better and cheaper power was vital if the country was to end energy poverty.
“Only one percent of homes in rural areas are connected to the central grid, and 90 percent of rural homes use battery-powered torches for light. Batteries cost on average 10-15 percent of household income, but costs can be as high as 66 percent in some regions,” he said.
He noted that once purchased, solar lanterns and home systems would be powered by the sun, thereby enabling families to make big savings.
According to the Campaign Director of Power For All Sierra Leone, Ami Dumbuya, activities held included fairs and events in Newton, Freetown, Waterloo and Ma dengn, as well as radio messages that highlighted the benefits of solar power.
She said a key focus of each solar fair was a “solar truck”, used to play music, and to power TVs, fans and fridges and that a variety of solar powered lanterns, rooftop systems and phone charging equipment were also on display.
The events, she said enabled hundreds of people to interact with, and learn about, solar products and to meet members of the Renewable Energy Association of Sierra Leone (REASL).
Ms Dumbuya said the events were aimed at enabling 250,000 households to access solar lighting by the end of 2017, and modern energy for all by 2025.
Replacing all of the batteries and kerosene used for off-grid lighting in Sierra Leone with modern, renewable off-grid solutions would enable savings of over US$105 million per year.