According to this article by Steven Sinofsky, a board partner at Andreessen Horowitz, China’s development of cheap solar power systems have enabled more and more of Africa to get online with their mobile phones.
With China bringing down the cost of larger panels, and the abundance of trade between Africa and China, there’s an explosion in slightly larger solar panels. In fact, many of the homes I saw just nine months ago now commonly sport a large two-by-four-foot solar panel on the roof or strategically positioned for maximal use.
While solar has been making inroads as an alternative power source for mobile infrastructure, solar is now increasingly the source for home use, powering handsets, as well as lights.
And as Sinofsky notes, the trend is only just getting started. With the increasing number of battery-powered devices, more and more things will be easily chargeable. With cheaper solar, improvements will be extended to larger environments such as schools, and power increasingly infrastructure-based gear, such as Wi-Fi and satellite links. Lastly, Sinofsky believes that battery storage solutions will be introduced in developing markets “long before they are ubiquitous in the developed markets” – no doubt Tesla’s powerwall battery launch not withstanding.