Developing a Supply Chain to Enable Access to Solar Lighting Kits for Rural Women in Mali
By Pierre Dembele, Mali Folkecenter (MFC), Climate Change department, INFORSE-Africa
of the Project
Mali is no exception, with electricity coverage standing in 2009 at around 60% in urban areas and falling to about 12% in rural areas, where the majority of the population live. At current electrification rates, the majority of people living in rural areas, especially the poor, will continue to have no access to modern energy services for the next decade at least. In the frame of it rural electrification programme, the government of Mali has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving access to electricity in rural areas. Subsidies are provided by AMADER (Malian Agency for Household Energy and Rural Electrification) to private operators to electrify rural settlements. This has contributed to increase the rural electrification rate from less than 1% in 2003 to about 12% in 2009. However significant obstacles remain. Most private operators are interested only in rural towns and villages that are large enough to offer a return on investment, meaning that the most isolated populations in small villages (500 to 1 000 inhabitants) remain without electricity. From the 12,000 Malian villages, less than 300 have been electrify so far with support from AMADER and other organisation.
This limited access of the majority of Malian rural households to electricity results in heavy dependence on kerosene lamps for home lighting, which limit the improvement of their life style, social activities and health as the consumption of kerosene have many negatives impacts including indoor pollution, respiratory illnesses and fire hazards. In addition is most of the villages, the cost for kerosene for lighting are cover by rural women. The recent development of lighting technologies, such as energy saving light bulbs, light emitting diodes (LED) with small solar panels of capacity between 1 to 2 watts, etc has open the way to cleaner and economic lighting solutions especially for rural household. However, there are barriers for the market penetration with good quality products. Most of the good quality lighting technologies available in Mali are concentrated in the urban city and don’t reach the rural and peri-urban areas.
Also the income level of people doesn’t allow them to pay at once and there is no credit mechanism available. In addition as mentioned early, there is limited access to credit from micro financing for potential entrepreneurs for the delivery of energy solutions. Potential energy entrepreneurs lack the business skills and expertise and business development services to ensure successful start-up and growth of rural energy business.
of the Project Activities
Christian Aid throught its pro-poor energy innovation fund, provided grant to Mali-Folkecenter Nyetaa to initiate the distribution network.
The solar lantern has the lamp and battery combine dine one portable unit. A Small PV module 1.5 Wp is use to charge the battery as well as for mobile phone charging. The pack is equipped with five different telophone charger headsets.
The solar lantern distribution model combines the provision of training of retailers in products marketing and maintenance with dedicated revolving fund for lending to retailers and final consumers
· Mali-Folkecenter Nyetaa: is responsible for the overall coordination of the project and the provision of marketing advise to the retailers. MFC is also responsible for the monitoring of the price charged by the retailers, which has been set to maximum of 30 Euros.
· ACCESS SARL: a private enterprise is responsible for the identification potential retailers comprising artisans or shopkeepers with a selling skill. ACCESS also provides the retailers with necessary technical training for the maintenance of the products. There are also informal training during regular monitoring by the staff of ACCESS SARL to check the work of the retailers and exchange on any problems arising. After these training ACCESS supply the retailers with stock of solar lanterns.
· The Retailers and Women cooperative receive the stock of solar lantern from ACCESS SARL and sell them the final consumers.
· In order to facilitate access to financial resources, part of the project grant is used as dedicated revolving fund placed at MFC micro finance institution (Nyetaa Finance) to facilitate lending to both retailers and the consumers for the purchase of the solar kits. Instead of giving cash money to the borrowers, Nyetaa Finance Nyetaa give them vouchers which allow them to get the solar kits from ACCESS SARL. Nyetaa is responsible for collecting the repayment from the borrowers and pay ACCESS SARL.
· The model is designed to be self-sustaining after 12 months of operation. At the end of the project when the distribution network is well developed, ACCESS SARL will use its own money to purchase additional solar kits to continue the distribution and upscale the model to others areas. In this case Access can develop in local Bank a loan facility.
3. Benefits of the Project
The project has many benefits including:
· In addition the replacement of kerosene lamp with solar lantern will reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas.
4. Lessons Learned and Policy Implication
This project demonstrates that:
· the delivery of energy products could also create jobs and generate income for local entrepreneurs and saving for the households.