Whether it is derived from a specialist kiosk or a portable panel at home, solar power has changed many lives for the better in Lesotho. Researchers argue that the high costs of electricity connections and tariff rates make it almost impossible for rural people to actually use the commodity.
OnePower’s first minigrid is a small system that has been serving around 200 customers for more than a year. The operation is part of an eight-minigrid project that will provide reliable electricity for the first time to more than 30,000 people, 13 health clinics, 25 schools, and over 100 small businesses.
Sotho Minigrid, established by renewable energy provider OnePower Lesotho, aims to provide affordable and reliable electricity services to off-grid villages in Lesotho. EDFI ElectrifFI and REPP, as co-lenders, are facilitating first-time access to clean electricity for 20,000 people in rural Lesotho.
SustainSolar was contracted by minigrid developer OnePower Lesotho to deliver the first batch of seven modular, turnkey and rapid-deployment Sustain Compact solar power solutions to Lesotho early this year.
The installations were ordered by the start-up company OnePower, a recipient of a grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The project aims to provide access to electricity to households in rural and peri-urban areas, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and economic centres that are both grid-connected and off grid.
The Lesotho Electricity Corporation will upgrade hydro-based mini-grids, provide new metering for new and existing households as well as extend its grid to commercial and industrial consumers.
The firms plan to apply their model to both rural and urban environments in the region, particularly informal settlements or ‘townships’ where many residents use dangerous illegal grid connections to power their homes.
Since 2012, Panasonic Corporation has been working on the 100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project: Through this project, the company has donated a total of approximately 81,000 units to 19 countries so far. In Africa, about 15,000 units have been donated already to 10 countries through international organizations and NGOs. This donation to three African countries now makes the total of donated lanterns approximately 83,000 units to 22 countries, and among them, about 16,000 units have been delivered to 13 African countries.