News, Outdoor

Senegal gets solar-powered streetlights

Most villages in Senegal do not have access to electricity, yet an investment in solar panels and low-energy light sources looks set to improve the lives of millions.

Africa has some of the highest levels of solar irradiation in the world, yet most villages in Senegal do not have access to electricity. Tens of thousands of pounds are currently being invested into solar energy in the West African region.

Maimouna Ndoye of the Senegalese Ministry of Energy says that over 18 million West African CFA Francs (over $33,000) has been invested into the scheme, with 900 of the panels being installed in the capital, Dakar.

In order to protect against theft and vandalism, the panels are being equipped with survelliance cameras, but Ndoye points out that the most ‘significant’ means of protecting the new kit is if the affected communities understand the potential benefits to them, adding that there is an education process underway.

The programme looks set to provide a welcome boost to rural communities, which often struggle with limited access to power. Low-energy lighting has also been acquired for certain public buildings, with the overall scheme forming part of an wider West African to fight back against the effects of climate change and to promote renewable energy sources. Phase one of the scheme is due for completion this year, with phase two involving participation from the private sector and due for 2015.

The effort takes place in the context of a continent seeking to gain energy independence whilst also preserving its environment. With rising populations and growing economic activity, Africa’s demand for power is set to grow, yet hundreds of millions of Africans are still deprived of basic services.

Besides Dakar, the Tambacounda, Thiès, Kaloack, Kolda, Linguère and Fatick regions are set to benefit from the scheme, which it is widely believed will improve the wellbeing and the safety of the surrounding communities, as well as reducing their electricity bills.