A team of students from Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenia on Thursday walked off as winners with R20 000 in prize money for an innovative concept to provide equitable energy access to remote villages based on, among others, “Uber(ising) solar energy.”

Investments in the off-grid energy sector are surging in emerging markets. Everyone agrees to that, but it doesn’t really tell us a whole lot. read the interview with Benjamin Attia, a research analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

Can a map save lives? Facebook thinks so. Using satellite photos and artificial intelligence (AI), the company has created a high-resolution map of population density in Africa that it says is more detailed than any of its predecessors.

Only with a paradigm shift, where utilities and off-grid companies work collaboratively to address the challenges of last-mile electrification, will we see real progress towards ending energy poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. And this is where African governments can play a catalytic role by embracing the potential of the off-grid sector.

Solar energy products that help low-income, rural people without electricity are also adding to the e-waste blight. As solar energy booms in the region, so do expired lead-acid batteries for rooftop solar panels and lithium batteries for solar lamps. E-waste can damage the environment.

As demonstrated through recent data from the International Renewable Energy Agency, off-grid renewable electricity has grown tremendously across the world over the last decade. Why have off-grid solutions been successful in some places and not in others?

It is simply impossible to be cooler than Mobisol, the Berlin-based provider of battery-backed solar systems to homes and microenterprises in Africa. But it was too good to be true. And the real struggle Mobisol has is not transparency or management but the economic metrics. Impact investors should try to avoid being seduced by coolness and virtue-signalling.

Beaded bracelets with solar-powered GPS enable health workers to monitor pregnant pastoralist women, preventing deaths in childbirth.

Commercial financial services tend to ignore the refugee market – despite its potential profitability. That limits refugees’ ability to safely bank the small savings they make, remittances from friends and family abroad, or to tap into business opportunities.

During the past two decades, African countries have initiated and concluded large electrification projects on borrowed funds, however the development has been skewed - less money went in augmentation of energy i.e. increasing the power generation whereas cross border power transmission projects hogged large funds.

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