What is solar energy in simple words? How is it used? Who invented it? Why is it important? These are just few questions one would ask. Why is daytime brighter and warmer than nighttime? The answer is simple: solar energy. Solar energy is simply the light and heat that come from the sun. People can harness the sun’s energy in a few different ways:photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity, solar thermal technology, where heat from the sun is used to make hot water or steam, or passive solar heating, which can be as simple as letting the sun shine through windows to heat the inside of a building. A photovoltaic cell absorbs light and converts it directly into electricity. A group of photovoltaic cells is known as a solar panel. You may have seen solar panels on houses, on electronic road signs, or in parking lots to power lights. Those People who have solar panels on their homes buy less electricity from their utility companies, because they are producing some electricity on their own. Some may even produce more than they use which in return comes back to them as the utility companies ends up paying them back.
Using solar means no greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere, since the sun provides us with overabundance energy than needed, and key point clean energy production. When it comes to Africa, it is a continent full of hope and opportunity one thing everywhere else takes for granted is electricity. Worldwide 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity in Africa that is 635 million, 57% of the population.
The majority of the poeple live in sub Saharan Africa where 68% are without power. Africa stands for the worlds cloud free which means they get the most sun light throughout the whole year. Sustainable energy is the solution to Africa’s energy crisis, with so many people already living in hardship it does not help when the sun sets as mobility is harder and everything including business comes to an end.
Akon Lighting Africa is a project started in 2014 by music artist Akon with Samba Bathily and Thione Niang which aims to provide electricity by solar energy in Africa. The Akon lighting Africa team has already done a tremendous job installing solar panels to meet the needs of population. Including solar streetlights and home service system that is prepaid for household use. The benefits of public lighting are endless, to name a few starting with main key being safety. Security increase quality of life by artificially extending the hours in which it is light so that activity can take place, safety for drivers, riders, and pedestrians. Women can sell their products later without feeling threatened, less accidents, having the streetlight is just as important as having eyes to see due to in the dark you cannot see and more likely to be in harms way. The people can enjoy social gatherings more safely now and even wander or walk home late safely. Public places like hospitals are no longer in the dark no longer depending on flashlights for light to care for patients.
We all know children are the future and with light after dark they can study, read, and prepare for any school related assignments. Not to mention access to the internet to do research, radio/tv to get news, and not having to travel miles to charge devices like phones to make calls. Which ultimately solar energy is cheaper in the long run, safer, cleaner for our earth, and nonhazardous? Also provides jobs and training opportunities for citizens to provide for oneself and family. Equal to all this solar energy is also important, because beyond access to electricity it is about economic empowerment and growth for the continent. Lastly, to provide a brighter future the children and the whole continent.
By Sega Kidane