(ERGO) – Gedow Osman Hussein, a father of seven, has doubled his workload in his small mechanics garage in the southern Somali town of Kismayo since installing locally available solar lighting.
He jumped at the chance of buying a newly marketed solar light for $60, as the cost of electricity is high and he could not afford the monthly bills.
Instead of the average three cars a day, he can even work on six.
“I’m now able to work day and night and that has benefited me a lot. The light is so bright it reaches all corners of the garage,” he said.
Gedow bought the lighting from Jubba Solar, a company started by a team of 11 returnee and IDP youth, who are selling solar equipment at affordable prices targeting returnees, IDPs and poor households in Kismayo.
Abdullahi Mohamed Mohamud, head of marketing at Jubba Solar, told Radio Ergo they have sold about 700 solar lights in the last six months in Kismayo and surrounding areas. They run the business as a team, dividing tasks and profits among the members.
“We sell the solar lights for up to $60 a piece. I make $50 a day selling the lights, and that allows me to keep $250 a month for my family, whereas before I could only afford to give them $70 a month, which was a source of tension between me and my wife,” he said.
They sell a variety of solar lights for different segments of the market. “We have some for reading purposes, some for market stalls, and some for big stores,” he explained.
The youth at Jubba Solar have been helped by German development agency GIZ, and the Jubbaland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The lighting is helping students, increasing incomes for small businesses, and even improving safety in poor neighborhoods.
Mohamed Adan Farah, a returnee from Dadaab refugee camps in north-eastern Kenya, said his family is enjoying the solar lighting.
“The light reaches beyond my house and even to my neighbour’s house. We also use it to charge our mobile phones. It has three buttons, one for general lighting, one for reading, and one for when we are sleeping,” he said.
The deputy head of Midnimo neighborhood in Kismayo, Foos Abdi Mohamed, told Radio Ergo that the lights have made the area safer.
“Even in my own household, we would all prepare for bed after the sun sets. No one would dare to check on the next door neighbour if something happens to them, but now with the solar lights we can go out at night,” she said.