Although most parts of sub-Saharan Africa enjoy 300+ days of sunlight every year, still, over 2 million people in Zimbabwe, especially in rural areas, don’t have access to reliable electricity. In most cities and towns, power outages are the norm and people often have to rely on petrol and diesel power generators.
Solar energy provides the best alternative for people in remote parts of Zimbabwe who are out of reach of electricity grids and or example the new northern suburbs in Beitbridge solely rely on solar power. On 19th April 2018 it was announced that Zimbabwe-based Southpole Consulting Private Limited had filed an authorization request with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority for the construction of a 125 MW solar power plant in Victoria Falls. Announced on 5th April 2018 that Zimbabwe is expected to benefit from a US$2-billion / ZAR23.8-billion solar financing facility provided by India to several African countries.
Th restraint to date, and if one thinks about its so simple to alleviate, is that awareness of renewable energy solutions is relatively low, with market penetration of solar lighting and home systems estimated at only 3%. Lack of knowledge is a major barrier to the development of the solar market. Most potential rural customers are unaware of recent advances in solar technology, reductions in the cost of the technology, availability of financing solutions such as the pay-as you-go model that allows them to access technologies and products that would ordinarily be beyond their reach. All it needs is consumer literacy on renewable energy products to unlock the huge potential of renewable products in off-grid rural communities.
Opportunities range from supplying products such as solar panels, frames, inverters, solar street lights, solar measuring towers, sub station protection, alternative energy refrigeration, solar lights, solar water pumps, remote sensing units, accessories (a team from General Electric was in Zimbabwe a few weeks ago in search of business opportunities) and sales (M-Kopa in Kenya sells solar home systems to low-income earners by allowing them to pay in instalments over the course of a year using mobile money. This Kenyan startup was ranked ahead of various multinationals and giant companies such as IBM, Adidas, and Jumia among others.)