SUJAWAL: The government has ignored them. Their own representatives have backtracked on promises. Perhaps, Mother Nature is the only smile they look out for. The sun shines for them in a different way. It provides a way to power their appliances through solar power.
Dost Ali Shoro, a small business owner, has installed a solar panel on the top of a thatched roof that would not sustain any weather misfortune. But, he remains upbeat as residents, potential customers, line up to order tea and watch television at his eatery.
“I’m happy that I’ve gotten more customers after the television was made available to them,” said Shoro, who had to be translated since his Urdu-speaking skills were found wanting. “I charge the solar panel during the day, turn the television on and customers flock to my place. My sales have increased.”
A cliched question, however, remains the actual viability of solar energy. With cost running extremely high as capacity increases, rural residents also remain largely unaware of its limitations.
Shoro is faced with a familiar problem. “But, I am not happy at how I charge it during the day but, don’t have electricity at night.” When explained that the charge has a limited capacity – around four to six hours after being fully charged – it drew a blank response.
Higgs said there was a clear need for more awareness as residents adopt the technology.
“We have asked our representatives to spread awareness of the issue and explain how the solar panels work.
“We are talking about selling these items to customers who lack basic education. Hence, it’s difficult to get your point across but, with time, issues would get sorted,” said Higgs as the distributor explained the mechanism and limitation of the solar panel to Shoro. “This is what we are trying to do. These solutions can help small-time entrepreneurs run their businesses in rural areas. Stitching and handicrafts are areas that we are focusing on. Kids are able to study in these lights.”
Sindh’s rural areas remain a highly untapped market and a largely ignored one as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2015.