Jacinta Auma shuffles slowly into her dim, mud-walled house, sits down, kicks off her sandals and switches on a light and a small television—a little miracle in this rural, deeply traditional corner of western Kenya. An estimated two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s population lack electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. To cope, many have long used kerosene-powered generators, but they are not only unhealthy and environmentally destructive, but also unsustainable.
Auma’s house is powered by an alternative source of energy: Every day, she lines up a solar panel outside her home, where it soaks up sunlight. The energy the panel gathers charges the batteries that power all her electrical devices.