Changing lives and alleviating poverty: The impact of renewable energy in off-grid areas
In the heart of Mozambique, where off-grid communities have long grappled with the harsh realities of energy poverty, a silent revolution is underway. For far too long, marginalised populations have faced the daunting challenge of accessing reliable energy, a basic necessity that many of us take for granted. A new study by the BRILHO programme has looked at the significant economic impact on communities when they have gained access off-grid energy access.
A perilous predicament: Energy poverty
In the remote provinces of Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, Manica, Tete, and Nampula, low-income families have been trapped in the clutches of energy poverty, struggling to make ends meet while grappling with soaring fuel costs and limited access to modern energy sources. In fact, in 2020, only 4.5% of the rural population had access to electricity compared to 75% of the electrified urban population. This is a problem that extends far beyond the boundaries of the African continent; it's a global crisis that stifles progress and perpetuates inequality.
Renewable energy as a beacon of hope
The BRILHO programme is funded by the UK and Swedish governments and implemented by SNV. It aimed not only to provide clean, sustainable energy solutions but to alter the destinies of thousands fundamentally.
This year, the programme embarked on a mission to measure the economic impact of off-grid energy solutions in the lives of low-income Mozambican families. The results were nothing short of astonishing.
Savings that change lives
Low-income households, thanks to these energy solutions, are now saving a minimum of 503 Mozambican Meticals per month on fuel costs alone. In addition, a staggering 1,729 Meticals are spared from the purchase of an entry-level energy product - resources that once drained their already meagre budgets.
But the story doesn't end with these savings; it's just the beginning. What truly makes this initiative remarkable is the transformative potential it unlocks. With these newfound financial resources, end users aren't just subsisting; they are thriving.
Low-income entrepreneurs are expanding their businesses, boosting their incomes, and making their dreams a reality. They now have the means to keep their small stalls open at night, to venture into phone charging and TV-watching businesses, and to bring light to their endeavours. With energy at their disposal, women are increasing their productivity, doubling the number of cakes they prepare, leaving dinner ready for their children, and having more time for education.
An ICS customer from Nampula, attests, ‘I am very happy with the product; it helped me grow my cake baking business, being fast to light up and cook with. Now have time to double the number of cakes I prepared, to leave dinner prepared for my children and attend school.’
A journey of change
The full study is available here, offering an in-depth exploration of the microeconomic impact of the BRILHO programme. It's a journey through hope, empowerment, and change - a testament to what's possible when off-grid communities have access to sustainable energy.