The Sunday Mail
The persistent electricity shortages in the region have made it apparent that electricity woes will not be going away anytime soon and hence the need for alternative sources of energy.
Solar power, a vastly available and clean alternative, has increasingly become popular in developing countries such as India and South Africa.
Locally, solar energy is used for household purposes while commercial irrigation in some areas is also thriving from it.
Many industrialised nations have installed systems that direct solar power into their national grids to supplement other energy sources.
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP).
Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics convert light into electric current using the photovoltaic effect.
Given its availability and safety, solar energy is a possible solution to power shortages in Zimbabwe.
Investments in solar power systems are increasing in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The growth is based primarily on the South African Non-grid Rural Electrification Programme valued at about US$ 20 million per annum. The focus of this programme is on stand-alone household systems.
The Development Bank of Southern Africa has funded similar programmes in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Swaziland.
These programmes are growing in scale and are attracting an increasing share of finances from governments, donors and the private sector.
However, despite the growth in this sector, solar energy technology penetration is still low in Africa with almost 600 million people resorting to other environmentally unfriendly and hazardous power solutions due to the inaccessibility of electricity.
Solar gadgets manufacturers have recently targeted African markets as more people are beginning to prefer solar power.
It costs an average US$800 for an individual to install a full solar kit that is capable of powering essential household appliances