Solar electricity generation: Issues of development and impact on ICT implementation in Africa
Campus-Wide Information Systems
The Open University of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; University of Ulster, Belfast, United Kingdom
Paul, D.I., The Open University of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Uhomoibhi, J., University of Ulster, Belfast, United Kingdom
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine and discuss, in-depth, how solar electricity can be developed and used to tackle grid electricity-related problems in African countries suffering from unreliable and inadequate grid electricity. Design/methodology/approach: The paper discusses in depth the current status of grid electricity in Africa continent and suggested solar electricity as an alternative cost-effective method to the existing grid electricity problem in remote areas. An extensive analysis of the major contribution of solar electricity in various sectors such as economic, health, communication, social and environmental benefits is provided. The paper concludes with a discussion on how solar power generation can be developed. Findings: The paper shows that in developed countries where ICT has been applied extensively, ICT offers increased opportunities for sustainable economic development and plays a critical role in rapid economic growth, productive capacity improvements, education, government, agriculture and international competitiveness enhancement. The paper has pointed out that ICT has yet to make significant impact in most African countries due to lack of reliable and adequate electricity. Solar electricity has been seen as the most cost-effective way of generating electricity, especially in remote rural areas, for ICT devices. For the widespread of solar power generation in Africa, various strategies have been identified which include training of qualified solar engineers and technicians, establishing PV markets and business modes, introduction of solar energy education in schools and universities, political leaders appreciating solar electricity as one of the major energy component, lowering initial cost of the PV technology, availability of finance mechanisms for rural communities, import tax exemption and African countries regarding rural electricity as one of the basic needs. Practical implications: The paper shows that the problems of lack of qualified solar technicians and established PV markets and business modes (especially in remote areas), lack of solar energy education in schools have to be addressed before the benefits of ICT in Africa can be seen. Other issues include African countries appreciating solar electricity as one of the major energy component, lowering initial cost of the PV technology, availability of finance mechanisms for customers, import tax exemption and African countries regarding rural electricity as one of the basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. Overhaul of existing systems needs to take place in order to provide the means to deal with some of these issues. Originality/value: Availability of reliable electrical energy remains crucial for development of ICT in rural African countries. Solar electricity is clearly one of the most promising prospects to the grid electricity problem in African countries because most African countries lie in the sunshine belt. The paper raises awareness about this in a unique way and suggests some novel measures about increasing the availability of solar systems for solar power generation. It is anticipated that the increases in solar power generation, especially in remote areas, will increase the use and application of ICT in various sectors. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Information and communication technology; Problems facing African countries; Remote rural areas; Solar electricity