Published on: May 05, 2023
Poverty reduction through rural electrification
120 Swiss francs per kilowatt hour is what people in rural Ethiopia pay for electricity from dry batteries for flashlights, which are the main source of light for them. This is not only an incredible financial burden, but also causes a huge waste problem. Unlike us, they can't just take the used batteries to the nearest supermarket and have them recycled. Millions of batteries end up in the landscape.
Together with Caritas Switzerland, we are working on solutions to this huge problem. Last week, I was on a field mission in Ethiopia with a Caritas team. We are piloting the first decentralized solar power systems for small businesses and schools, as well as lighting for private households. The focus is on fighting poverty by creating additional income for the rural population and reducing the use of environmentally problematic dry batteries.
In the village of Rira, for example, Caritas Switzerland has set up a honey processing station, with the necessary electricity supplied by our Power-Blox. The honey, which is extracted in the traditional way, remains liquid and longer lasting when properly processed. There is a great demand for the super tasty honey even in their own country, making the product a great example of income generation.
The project is not only a useful example in rural electrification and poverty alleviation, but also practical proof that cooperation between NGOs and the private sector can complement each other well. While Caritas Switzerland knows the value chains, culture and local conditions in Ethiopia very well, we support from the private sector side with technology, local training and possible business models.
Thus, together we create the basis for sustainable impact in this very difficult environment. This as a basis to pave the way for local social entrepreneurs like our partner Africa GreenTec to scale the electrification models once profitability is achieved and scaling is possible.