People without electricity could end up living the energy dream

Solar power is giving millions of people access to electricity for the first time – could they bypass traditional fossil fuel grids altogether?

MORE than 100 million people around the world now have access to electricity for the first time thanks to simple solar power systems that typically provide LED lights and a phone charger. More powerful versions include radios and even televisions.

The LEDs provide a clean and cheap alternative to the kerosene lamps normally used by those with no electricity. “People spend 50 cents a day on kerosene,” says Nick Hughes, co-founder of M-KOPA Solar of Kenya, which has sold 550,000 home solar power systems in East Africa. Some families spend a tenth of their income on fuel for lighting. “It’s a crazy price for a poor fuel,” says Hughes.

His firm has just raised the money it needs to finance a million more systems, and Hughes thinks they could eventually sell up to 11 million in East Africa alone. And M-KOPA is just one