In Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, only around 12 per cent of the approximately 18 million inhabitants are connected to the electricity grid.
The remainder of the population relies on firewood, charcoal and plant residues for its cooking and heating needs.
For lighting, small kerosene or battery-powered lamps are used, which are dangerous and environmentally harmful energy sources.
This is where Energising Development (EnDev) — an energy partnership financed by Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, Switzerland and Sweden — comes into the picture: the partnership promotes access to modern energy in a total of 25 countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia.
1,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year saved
With support from EnDev, 33,000 people in Malawi have since mid-2015 received small solar devices, which they use to light their homes.
Some also use the equipment to charge their cellular telephones. One such person is Clara Sayineti from the village of Mwadenje.
By using her solar lamp she can forego the use of expensive and environmentally harmful kerosene, thereby saving an annualised amount of 4.80 euro per week. The lighting has also made it easier for her children to complete their homework assignments in the evenings.
She herself is now able to sew in the evenings in the bright light provided by her solar lamp, as well as run a small food stand in front of her house, which contributes to her income.
The small solar devices that have been distributed by EnDev in Malawi have already resulted in carbon dioxide emissions savings of 1,500 tonnes per year. That is the equivalent of 678 roundtrip flights from Berlin to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. And, the demand for the devices continues to grow.
The market for solar products is growing
According to estimates, by the end of 2016 about 62,000 solar lamps had been sold in the country, which means that only one per cent of the population living in energy poverty has been reached.
EnDev is making a significant contribution to the development of a sustainable market for solar products along the entire value chain.
The awareness of the population is also increasing with regard to the economic advantages of high-value solar products.
Thanks to the growing solar market in Malawi, many more people in the coming years will be using solar products, which are more climate-friendly and economical than traditional fuels.