In Bopulu and other towns and villages of Gbarpolu county, people have started to use solar power to bring light to their homes and businesses. James S. Togbah has a little shop in Bopulu and is an agent for Lib Solar. In March 2020, Lib Solar came to Gbarpolu, did an advertisement for solar products, and brought some Pico PV products from d. light.
James S. Togbah registers people who show interest in the products. He also collects the money every month, since most of the solar systems are “Pay as you go” that allow for payments in installments, stopping to operate if the installment is not paid.
There are different solar products. The smallest is a solar table light that costs 10 USD, a bigger system with flat-screen, 3 bulbs, phone charger and table fan, which costs 510 USD and can be paid with 200 USD, then the balance with 10 USD per month. The most popular solar product powers 3 bulbs, a charger, and a small radio. After selling 78 pieces of them in March, 68 more pieces were brought to customers. They pay 1600LD at the beginning, then 560LD for 32 months.
So far, most people are satisfied. In private homes, offices (e.g. Action aid office in Bopulu), or small businesses (guest house, restaurants, etc.) the lights and phone chargers make life easier. Less than 10 people stopped paying and using the product.
The owner of “Save the People Restaurant” in Bopulu has bought the solar lights and is satisfied with them. Before this, he had used another solar system (Forsera) that he bought within the Light Up Liberia Program of Mercy Corps. However, the system stopped working. Technicians from Mercy Corps came and said he should bring the system to Monrovia to have it checked. However, traveling to Monrovia costs around 3000LD, so he had not had the chance to get it repaired and recommends that local technicians should be trained to help with such problems.
Even though he enjoys the solar light, especially for brightening up a dark room and charging phones for customers, he still depends on the community's current from a generator nearby, paying 300LD every day for getting electricity from 6 pm to midnight. So there is still potential for bigger solar systems to provide comprehensive electricity sky all needs.