What impact SHS can make – user stories from the North

During our last mission in the Diana region, in the north of Madagascar, we spoke to users of Solar-Home-Systems (SHS) bought from OMDF’s beneficiaries.

We’d like to share some of their stories with you to illustrate what impact SHS can make.

Mrs B* – on-grid at home and off-grid at work

Mrs B lives in Ambilobe, a mid-sized city situated at the National Route 6, roughly 130 km (or five hours drive) from Antsiranana (Diègo-Suarez). The city is served by a grid managed by the public utility. Through it, Mrs B and her family have access to electricity at home. At their work at the local market selling bananas, they would be in the dark if they hadn’t bought a SHS. Some of her friends experienced product failures after having bought lower quality solar product in the past. Thus, she decided in favour of a quality product from one of OMDF’s beneficiaries and now her neighboring market stalls are interested in shifting to better quality products as well.

Mr Sada – close to the grid but still off-the grid

Mr Sada lives in Manongarivo, a settlement outside of Ambilobe. Although just a few minutes walk outside the city, the grid doesn’t arrive at his house. To protect himself from the heat of the sun, the window shutters are closed most of the time, leaving the indoor in the dark. Thus, he bought a solar kit to enlighten the inside of his house during the day, and the outside during the night to increase safety. Some of the other houses in his settlement bough bigger solar solution on the market. However, Mr Sada opted for the smaller solution as he can pay it back in installments and is thus more affordable for him. He also prefers the bright light his solar kit provides. The family is currently saving to buy a second SHS – this time with a TV.

Mr Gael – off-grid but not off-electricity

Mr Gael owns a hotel in Ankify, a small village at the coast close to Ambanja which is situated 100km south of Ambilobe at the National Route 6. The village’s main economic activity is its port which connects the main island with Nosy Be, Madagascar’s most developed tourism destination. Despite that, the village is not connected to the grid. Many hotels, such as Mr Gael’s, use diesel generator to provide basic electricity services to their customers. Due to diesel shortages and increased prices, Mr Gael decided to partly switch to solar and thus bought several SHS. He recharges the SHS during the day on the hotel’s terrace and lends them to the customers to charge their phones. He would like to buy a bigger solar system to power a fridge and fans.

Mrs Faidaty – mini-grid by day – SHS by night

Mrs Faidaty was one of the first clients of a solar-powered mini-grid in Bemaneviky, a village close to Ambanja, only accessible by car outside the rainy season. Initially, she chose a tariff that provides electricity 20 hours per day. To increase comfort and safety during the night when the electricity is cut off, Mrs Faidaty bought a Solar-Home System, which she repays in monthly instalments. Since then, she switched to a 24/7 tariff and uses the electricity provided by the mini grid in combination with the SHS as this is the most economical solution for her family.

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Our mission confirmed the well-known fact that high quality Solar-Home-System (SHS) are an affordable solution to sustainable electricity access for remote off-grid households and thus a pillar to reach SDG7.

In addition, solar kits can improve electricity services for those household that already have access to electricity, for example by increasing the available hours of electricity per day, by offering additional services such as television or by (partly) replacing costly diesel generators. SHS do thus not only offer a first-time access to electricity for off-grid households but provide the opportunity to climb up the green energy latter.

(* name changed)

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