Okra Solar is developing solar-powered mesh-grids to provide electricity to rural, off-grid households in Nigeria. The hardware and software systems that Okra designs and manufactures enable energy companies to deploy so-called “last-mile” electrification projects at scale, bringing remote rural residents clean and reliable electricity.
Electricity is a foundation of modern life; those who live without it, in “energy poverty,” are largely unable to participate in the modern economy. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of people worldwide who live without access to electricity decreased significantly from 1.2 billion to 759 million. But, despite this encouraging overall drop, the number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa without electricity actually grew because the region’s population increased faster than its access to energy.
Remedying the problem of electricity access is challenging because the vast majority of those who remain off-grid live in widely-distributed rural communities with fewer than 500 households. Without other options, they are often forced to use costly and polluting diesel generators or to burn wood for warmth and cooking, solutions that damage their health and the environment. Clean energy options like standalone home solar (SHS) and mini-grids can be expensive and do not always provide sufficient energy for a productive modern life.
Okra’s hardware + software mesh-grid solution is easy to deploy and monitor, cost-effective, reliable, and designed specifically for rural communities. Mesh-grids are used to electrify off-grid households by connecting them together so they can share renewable energy around the clock. Each house in the grid contains a battery, a solar panel, and an Okra pod. They share power by way of low voltage transmission lines and do not need centralized infrastructure or large fields of solar panels. This mesh design increases grid uptime and energy availability and enables households to have a stable supply of productive power that can run large appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, pumps, electric cookers, and even telecom towers. Access to electricity, and the time it saves, provides numerous health, education, and economic benefits and connects these remote communities to the modern world. King Philanthropies’ investment in Okra Solar is helping it to eradicate energy poverty and provide electricity access that will give people who live in remote rural areas greater opportunities to improve their lives and livelihoods.