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Electricity is a critical enabler of economic development.

After investment Solar systems can bring power for electricity, clean drinking water, irrigation for food production, additional benefits for health and education, CO2 emission reduction for clean air and improving the overall quality of life.

In order to give insight in what solar technologies can offer to the rural communities of The Gambia, this catalogue summarizes the following various solar options:

  • Mini-grids: Mini-grids are centralized stand-alone solar power systems supplying electricity to a community. They can play a critical role in powering economic development, e.g. provide electricity for homes, schools, clinics, radio & TV, computers, welding machines, mechanic workshops, carpentry, grain milling machines, refrigeration, ice block making, printing, produce cooling and commercial shops. Depending on the distance to a borehole power supplies can be extended to the community water pumping system and for garden irrigation.
  • Solar Home Systems:

SHS are standalone solar systems with a solar array, complete cabling, solar battery charger, battery bank and inverter having the capacity to power standard 220V appliances in residences, shops, offices, etc. The most common seizes for this application are designed from 1000Watt-10kW depending on the power requirements of the end-user.

  • Pico Light Kits: Pico LED lights are affordable low Watt DC lights powered by a solar module that stores solar energy in a lithium battery. The technology is developing into larger DC solar systems that in addition to light provide power for satellite TV, fridges and fans. The project intends to introduce Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) or Rent-To-Own (R2O) affordable systems that are paid over an agreed period of time.
  • Solar powered Kiosks: Pre-fabricated kiosks fully equipped with a solar system can be used for income generation small businesses, e.g. for internet services, mobile phone sales, servicing and charging, SIM cards, telecom pre-paid cards, micro-financing services, e-commerce, agent banking, food & cold drinks sales, franchise outlets, restaurant & bar, hair dressing, etc.
  • Solar water pumping for communities:

However, water supplies from hand dug wells with a hand pump are very common, new technology solar pumps should be considered with 6” boreholes and water storage tanks for supplies at night or in reserve for cloudy days. Smaller communities may use PVC elevated tanks and bigger towns use steel tanks to store water.PVC pipe distribution systems with public tap-stands as well as private connections can be considered. An affordable standard water tariff will be established to ensure future system sustainability through maintenance and repairs.

  • Irrigation for community gardens:

Solar water pumping is highly recommended for cost-effective irrigation in community horticultural gardens for production of pepper, onions, salad, etc. The garden production can be combined with solar cooling to store harvested produce, thus avoiding wastage and enabling extended time for sales of fruits and vegetables.

  • Storage of produce with solar cooling:

In order to extend the period of availability for the marketing of produce in general solar powered storage capacity can be provided for markets and horticultural gardens. This can bring substantial economic savings and increase the seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables.

  • Solar powered milling machines:

Community milling services are essential for most villages and electrical solar can replace existing diesel fuel powered units and milling machines can be an option to be supplied in the project. Milling of rice, coose, millet and corn is important for local food supplies and can generate income for the operators.

  • Community entertainment big screen TV or beamer:

TV entertainment & music center on solar power to view soccer matches, movies, training movies, satellite TV, etc.

  • Business Centre:

Internet services, Computer training, Gaming, Printing Services, Copying, Stationary supplies, etc.

  • Welding shop

Welding activities need a larger solar power supplies. It is therefore proposed to create a general business activity centre(see mini-grid) where many other income generating and business activities that require a good and stable electricity supply can be centralized, e.g. solar milling, ice block making, etc.

  • Ice Block Making and Cold Drinks

A chest freezer for ice block making and a separate chest cooler for cold drinks can be a good income generation activity.

  • Fuel Efficient Solar Stove Mimi-Moto:   

The Mimi-Moto is the cleanest multi-fuel cooking stove currently available. It has a solar module also pico-PV solar electricity for mobile phone charging and LED lighting. The target is to provide low-income rural and urban households with a micro-credit Program. Repayments can be offset by the fuel savings gained while using the stove. The Mimi-Moto reduces firewood or charcoal consumption by at least 50% compared to traditional stoves as it has an internal fan improving fuel combustion. The Mimi-Moto substantially reduces cooking time, which contributes to the savings and can mitigate deforestation through large-scale marketing.

  • Solar Street Lights:

Community solar street-lights can also be an option to be provided  for rural communities. The newest models have a solar module on the top of the LED lights and an integrated high-quality Lithium battery with a long-life cycle.