As Somalia stabilises, the demand for reliable energy is growing. This started in Mogadishu, but with the large number of returnees and increase in businesses, the demand for energy has also spread to other regions in Somalia. Most Somalis do not have access to electricity. Instead their energy comes from burning wood or charcoal, or from petroleum. This obvious energy shortage combined with the potential destructive effects the energy sources currently used have on the environment and the absence of a national grid, means that innovation is required to meet Somalia’s energy needs. Last year, the Stabilisation Support Unit in the Prime Minister’s office approached the Stability Fund and asked if it could help. The Prime Minister’s Office had been in touch with the local government in Dhusamareb, which had requested help installing street lights. They had seen the impact such lights had in Mogadishu and were keen on the same for Dhusamareb. We in the Stability Fund grasped this proposal with both hands: one hand because we have seen the effect of solar street lights in Mogadishu, Galkayo and elsewhere, and the other hand as we saw something important about different tiers of government coming together to benefit the population. Working closely with the local administration and the Prime Minister’s Office, the team carried out an assessment on the ground to check the feasibility of the project and also make sure that the community in Dhusamareb were keen on the lights. They were, and despite the rocky ground in Dhusamareb, the project looked feasible. Next we started our search for a Somali company to do the work.
The Stability Fund partnered with SolarGen Technologies, a Somali owned business based in Mogadishu, providing sustainable and cost-effective energy. With offices in Mogadishu, Kismayo and Nairobi SolarGen operates in the entire south and central regions of Somalia.
SolarGen has thus far implemented projects ranging from solar off-grid installation for enterprises and homes; solar-powered street lights as well as pumps for irrigations and drinking water. In order to implement these projects Solargen has employed young, educated and well-trained Somalis. Though the potential of renewable energy technology in improving livelihoods is great, the high initial installation costs and the growth in demand for energy has been beyond what a startup Somali businesses could meet. ‘Our partnership [with the Stability Fund] ensured the elimination of the financial disincentive to installing solar-powered systems and facilitated us to catch up with the rapidly increasing demand of energy within the Somali community’ said Aidarus the Managing Director of SolarGen.
SolarGen has taken on the task of constructing solar street lighting in Dhusamareb. The work is happening right now, and the 118 lights will be located on the main road, market, hospital and police station. The locations were chosen in collaboration with local authorities not only to improve the stability by increasing the community safety, but also give the local authorities the means to respond to the population’s demands.
“We are delighted to be giving Dhusamareb town its first ever street lights and in an environmentally friendly manner”, Said Aidarus who is excited about the Dhusamareb solar street lights project and knows the huge impact it can have on the region’s stability. SolarGen will be opening a new office in Hargeisa and looks to reach all of Somaliland in order to fulfill its mission of becoming one of the best renewable energy companies in East Africa.