598 million people in Africa have no access to electricity. Electricity provides a clean source of light and energy. Without it, people resort to expensive, dangerous alternatives such as kerosene. Solar lights are safe, clean and affordable, and women in Zanzibar are leading the way to helping their communities gain access to them.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH KEROSENE FUEL?
Many people who do not have access to electricity resort to using kerosene fuel, which is costly and toxic. It is a fossil fuel, so when it burns it emits a thick black smoke which is bad for the environment. This is because unburnt particles of the fuel are released into the air. Each kerosene lamp emits 340kg of CO2 emissions per year, and in total they release about 3% of global black carbon emissions. This contributes to global warming, which you can read more about here.
It is also bad for people’s health. Air pollution kills more people per year than HIV and Malaria combined. Spending a few hours with a kerosene lamp and breathing its fumes has effects equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day.
And finally, kerosene is very expensive. Families often spend 10-15% of their income on kerosene which can keep them trapped in poverty.
WHAT IS SOLAR POWER?
Solar power converts energy that it absorbs from the sunlight into energy that can be used for electricity. It is better for the environment because it is renewable. You can read more about how it works here.
Solar energy lights homes more cheaply than kerosene or mains electricity. In Kenya, families with a solar light use 77% less kerosene when they own a solar light, and save £74 a year. In Malawi, 92% of people with solar lamps that were interviewed said that their children could use the laps to study for two extra hours per evening. This is because it is cheaper to use than kerosene.
Therefore, it is much better both for people and the environment to switch to solar power if you can. Read this article for more information about how others are doing this