For the past 4 years, our nation has been suffering greatly from an erratic power supply. Yet still, it remains a mystery why alternative sources of power have not been explored.
It is a fact that through adversity, opportunities arise. The use of solar as a power source has been attracting some attention over the past few years. Solar panels can now be found in some residential areas and even at selected companies. There appears to be some glimmer of hope with regards to the power supply in our beloved country.
A few companies have started the journey to make solar another player in the power industry in order to reduce the energy crisis that we have faced for so many years. Solar People is among the group of companies working toward the change.
Solar People is a solar company based in Ghana, which provides solar lighting solutions to rural communities. The company is only two years old and specializes in rural electrification solutions.
The company’s mission is to eradicate energy poverty with solar, one person and one community at a time, thereby inspiring innovation and sustainability in the process.
We had the opportunity to chat with Solar People and this was the outcome:
What inspired you to set up Solar People?
We were inspired to start Solar People because we wanted to provide solar lighting solutions to off-grid communities. That was the initial inspiration. According to the ‘Lighting Africa 2012’, 72% of people in rural Ghana depend on kerosene as a main source of lighting. We wanted to bridge the energy poverty gap with solar power.
What is your company set to achieve in relation to the continuous power problem facing us as a nation?
We hope to be able to make solar affordable to people and communities by offering them different financing schemes to put the technology on their roof and offer them a flexible payment structure to afford it.
How many people are currently employed at Solar People?
Currently, we have six employees: two full-time, four part-time staff.
Is your company looking to expand its operations soon? If yes, where?
We will expand operations to anywhere we see an opportunity to grow our business and reach more people.
For now, we are focused in Accra where we have our office. We also have a solar lamp project in Hobor in the Ga South District. This project is called ‘Kaneapa’ and has a vision of eradicating kerosene lanterns used by rural children. Our goal is to replace the kerosene lanterns with solar lamps.
How is Solar People looking to contribute to our National Development?
Helping to tackle energy poverty using solar lighting solutions. I believe this is consistent with the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) vision shared by Ghana and the rest of the world.
What are some of the challenges your company has faced and how have you overcome them?
Financing projects have been a big challenge and also the public’s perception of solar technology. We overcame the funding barrier by taking on major solar projects with partners and also raising funding through crowdsourcing.
As far as people’s perception, we have been doing more outreach and educating our people so they have a better understanding.
What has kept your company running effectively irrespective of the high cost of running a business in Ghana?
We are a small company so we keep that in mind in everything we do. Plus, we are still a start-up in our second year so we don’t pay salaries, only the operational costs. We also use social media a lot for marketing, which reduces our costs.
What are your thoughts on the current power crisis?
We should consider investing in clean energy. We can start by decentralizing the solar technology with progressive government policy and financial incentives so the private sector can invest in the technology. Solar is not just about bulk infrastructure feeding into the grid. It is also about modern technology. What is driving the solar revolution in Africa is actually Pay As You Go (PAYG) solar.
Your thoughts on ways technology can make our country and continent a better place.
We have to just deploy the technology, just do it!
Which alternative source of power will you recommend?
I bet you knew I would say solar first and the wind power. We also believe in the potential of waste-to-energy technologies.
What drew us to Solar Power is their commitment and dedication for rural Ghana. Our interview with the team proves that solar is a better alternative source of power. It provides energy reliability. As a nation, we can rely on it to reduce the pressure on fuel and gas. The rising and setting of the sun are extremely consistent on the African continent. Unlike the inconsistency with fuel and gas, which is dependent on suppliers.
Also, solar power provides energy independence, since the “fuel” for solar panels cannot be bought but is free for all to use. Once you have solar panels on your roof, you have an essentially independent source of electricity that is all yours.
In conclusion, solar power is a job-creating powerhouse that the nation can use as a tool to solve the unemployment phenomenon we are facing at the moment. Money invested in solar power creates more jobs than money invested in coal or natural gas. Solar power is one very important solution to the global warming crisis and also saves us a ton of money.
Click HERE to stay connected with Solar People
Author: Kwesi Otoo, threesityGh