One Acre Fund farmers live off the electricity grid, and spend a surprising amount of money to light their homes. They generally purchase kerosene for small, dim lamps on a daily basis, spend money on candles and flashlight batteries, and pay to charge mobile phones several times per week.
Solar lamps represent a significant technology improvement. They potentially eliminate the need for daily energy expenditure, leading to cost savings. They reduce indoor air pollution and reduce carbon emissions from kerosene. Most important to farmers, they are 4x-10x brighter.
Solar lamps are also expensive for the typical farmer, ranging from $15-$40 USD retail price. In 2011 in Kenya and 2013 in Rwanda, One Acre Fund completed two RCTs with farm families to estimate the exact energy cost savings from purchasing a solar light. Our estimates of cost savings range from $0.45 USD per day to $0.70 USD per day.
Given these positive results, we decided to sell solar lamps. Today, One Acre Fund is one of Africa’s largest retailers of solar lamps, and in 2015, we will sell approximately 130,000 solar lamps.