A Sun in the Night: Lighting Rural Communities in Ethiopia with Renewable Energy Sources

  In the eastern Somali region in Ethiopia, Sky Power provides customers like Fetiya Sirad access to affordable and renewable energy. Since 2016, they've sold nearly 1,000 solar home systems to local customers and businesses. Photo cred  it: Faisal Abdi Ahmed

In the eastern Somali region in Ethiopia, Sky Power provides customers like Fetiya Sirad access to affordable and renewable energy. Since 2016, they've sold nearly 1,000 solar home systems to local customers and businesses. Photo credit: Faisal Abdi Ahmed

Fetiya Sirad lives in the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia. She used to spend most of her days collecting firewood to light her home and cook meals to feed herself and her family. Recently she purchased a solar home system from Sky Power, an Ethiopian company that sells affordable solar products to targeted communities in Ethiopia’s remote Somali region.

Rural electrification rates are less than 10 percent in Ethiopia and even lower in the Somali region, where villagers like Fetiya have few options for clean and affordable energy. Sky Power, an African enterprise based in Jijiga in the Somali territory in Ethiopia, understands the necessity of renewable and affordable energy solutions for rural villagers. With $100,000 in seed capital from the U.S. African Development Foundation, a Power Africa partner, Sky Power is meeting those market needs. Fetiya says when she first turned on a solar-powered light bulb, she laughed. “I’ve never seen a light in my life,” said Fetiya. “Now I’m using it to light up my home, listen to the radio, and use it anytime we travel at night.”

 

Faisal Ahmed, Managing Director of Sky Power, strives to meet the needs of the community. Local businesses such as barbershops and retail shops require affordable energy solutions to lower costs and reduce dependency on diesel-powered generators. Sky Power offers a variety of home solar products tailored to customers’ needs and is on a pay-as-you-go model if customers cannot afford the full cost upfront.

 

“Before the USADF grant, Sky Power was a relatively small, emerging energy company in the region,” says Ahmed. “The generous funding from USADF has made a significant contribution in supporting the rural off-grid electrification in the country. We are now the only energy promoter operating in Ethiopian Somali Regional State and are expanding the business to contribute towards the efforts of reducing energy poverty.”

 

Through the Power Africa Off Grid Energy Challenge, USADF and General Electric support local enterprises to bring power to the people. USADF co-creates with African communities to develop effective, local delivery models. Together, GE and USADF have provided $100,000 in funding to more than 70 enterprises like Sky Power. 

 

In the year following the initial seed capital, Sky Power has sold nearly 1,000 solar home systems to customers that would otherwise be considered unreachable by traditional energy technologies. Customers agree that they see the benefits of such technology in their homes and businesses. Mahamud Farah, a Sky Power customer and local shopkeeper says, “This electricity has helped to power and grow my business. I am eager for the benefits of solar power to expand in the community. We do not have scarcity of solar power, so we are happy these products are available to us.”