Nairobi, Kenya — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 27 October 2011 – Dutch company Ubbink B.V.”’ in a joint venture with Kenyan firm Chloride Exide “’ is leading the way in the solar power market here by opening the first solar panel factory in East and Central Africa.
Chloride Exide produces batteries and has an established distribution network not only in Kenya but across East Africa.
More than 30 people are employed in the factory, which buys broken solar cells from the Dutch company Solland Solar which are cut by laser or hand into smaller cells to be used in panels. The solar panels are between 13 and 120 watts.
“We target the rural population, which comprises two thirds of our customer base. The remainder are bought by NGO’s and holiday lodges,” explains Haijo Kuper, the managing director of Ubbink East Africa.
Some 98% of the rural population in Africa does not have access to national electric power supply, and most households rely on paraffin lamps.
In the past 10 years the price per watt of solar power has reduced by 75%. But despite the reduction it is still expensive for Africans, 50% of whom live on less than two dollars a day. “It is not yet cheap,” agrees Kuper. “It is a long term investment, but the greater the demand for solar panels, the more the price will reduce.”