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SolarAid – A ‘duodecuple’ WIN for the SDGs


You know how some things are described as a “triple win”?

It’s a phrase that’s often used when something provides social, economic and environmental benefits – win win win – a triple win. Great. But not as great as SolarAid.

Our activities at SolarAid, distributing solar lights and renewable energy to last mile communities across Africa through our social enterprise SunnyMoney, provides multiple positive benefits and impacts twelve of the Sustainable Development Goals. Not just a “triple” win – SolarAid is a “duodecuple” win for the SDGs – win win win win win win win win win win win win!

SolarAid works to accelerate the achievement of SDG7 “access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all”, but our work positively impacts 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 1 – No Poverty
One solar light saves a family, on average, 10% of their income. Plus, our Trade-not-aid model creates jobs.

SDG 2 – Zero hunger
The number one thing families report spending their savings on is food. As most of our customers are farmers, they also spend savings on boosting farm production.

SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
Burning kerosene and candles inside has negative health impacts. Indoor air pollution now kills more people globally than HIV and malaria combined. 54% of our customers report improved health after switching to solar light.

SDG 4 – Quality Education
On average, in households with a solar light, children do an extra hour of study each night. Many teachers have told us that when children have access to solar lights, their attendance, motivation and results improve.

SDG 5  – Gender Equality
A SolarAid study in Kenya found that half of head teachers interviewed felt that school attendance of girls who had access to solar lights was better, and that girls’ motivation and performance had improved. Plus, a number of our sales agents and women.

SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
We are reaching the poorest, most remote communities to provide access to affordable, reliable and sustainable solar lights – no one else is reaching these communities.

SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
Solar lights can extend business hours when darkness falls. They also provide business opportunities, some customers have started phone-charging business using solar products.

SDG 9 – Industry innovation and infrastructure
Access to electricity promotes industry and innovation. We work to catalyse solar markets – we played a key role in catalysing the first two Africa solar markets in Kenya and Tanzania.

SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
Solar reduces inequality by providing light and power where there was none before. We serve families who can not afford grid-based power.

SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
Solar is inherently more sustainable than fossil fuels. We decouple economic growth from natural resource use – empowering communities with renewable technology.

SDG 13 – Climate Action
Each solar light averts over 1 tonne of CO₂ emissions, making a significant cumulative impact on mitigating climate change.

SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
We work in collaboration with many other organisations to maximise our shared impact on the SDGs.

September 22 to 29 is #GlobalGoals Week which highlights the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The sixth High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York in July highlighted that while positive progress is being made, it is not at sufficient speed to achieve the Goals by 2030.

The Global Off Grid Lighting Association admits that, as things stands, if we continue with ‘business as usual’ there will still be 600 million people in Africa lacking access to clean energy and light in 2030, the year by which we are supposed to have sorted out this mess, according to SDG7.

As our CEO, John Keane, points out:

“If you haven’t got electricity access in rural areas, you’re tying your hands behind your back in trying to solve all the SDGs.”

Please help us raise awareness of the SDGs during #GlobalGoals Week by sharing news of how SolarAid provides a “duodecuple” win for the SDGs. We’ll be sharing things on Twitter and Facebook all week – and a few shares and retweets would really help!