Solar power brings new opportunities for women Risking their health, and often their lives, the smell of diesel from generators made the air putrid and filled the clinic with poison at night. Even if the generator-powered lanterns were able to provide light, there was no guarantee that enough electricity was left to refrigerate lifesaving vaccinations. Despite this, generators and lanterns were until recently the only way medical clinics in Nigeria could stay open at night, which they did, albeit inefficiently. “Now there is light everywhere, in every corner. There is light!” shouts Matron Nesisi, a health worker at a clinic based just outside of Lagos. The stable provision of electricity now means women can deliver their children safely and immunisations can be given early enough to prevent the spread of infection and disease. For a clinic with only 36 beds but the only clinic to support the entire community, resources are everything. The introduction of solar power has reduced the cost of health services and is increasing the number of people the clinic can treat.
cannot afford electricity so use a lot of firewood and charcoal.” Soaring maintenance costs and harmful emissions from generators are no longer the only way to power households. Solar also has the potential to reform business opportunities. Matron Nesisi suggests “Solar power could provide huge benefits for women engaging in business. Many are market vendors who sell chicken, turkey and other poultry. They could use solar power for ovens to prepare the food and
Now there is light everywhere, in every corner. There is light!” broadcasts Matron Nesisi, a health worker at the Epe PHC clinic in Nigeria. ensure it is hot. It will improve the standard of living. Those who are selling drinks can sell them cold. Solar power would be able to increase the income of women who could use refrigeration and cooking in market stalls to extend food shelf life and save costs by reducing food waste. It means they can also sell frozen foods.” The current state of the energy market in Nigeria is failing women. The cost to replace generators is inaccessibly high and there are no incentives for greener energy contracts to replace inefficient and harmful energy supplies. A solar programme is supporting the Government and private sector providers to commercially finance and support energy provision through competitive solutions for Nigerians.
In 2014, Nigerians spent over US $185 million on importing generators and this is set to increase by 8.7% – a situation that has been dubbed an “epileptic power crisis” by local media. After two years of working at the clinic, Matron Nesisi believes that renewable energy has empowered communities by giving women in Nigeria an unspoken and underrated freedom. Choice. She explains, “We use a generator in our own home. This is very expensive and it is not normal, however, we have no choice. The vast majority