People without electricity could end up living the energy dream

low-power light

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MORE than 100 million people around the world now have access to electricity for the first time thanks to simple solar power systems that typically provide LED lights and a phone charger. More powerful versions include radios and even televisions.

The LEDs provide a clean and cheap alternative to the kerosene lamps normally used by those with no electricity. “People spend 50 cents a day on kerosene,” says Nick Hughes, co-founder of M-KOPA Solar of Kenya, which has sold 550,000 home solar power systems in East Africa. Some families spend a tenth of their income on fuel for lighting. “It’s a crazy price for a poor fuel,” says Hughes.

His firm has just raised the money it needs to finance a million more systems, and Hughes thinks they could eventually sell up to 11 million in East Africa alone. And M-KOPA is just one