Solar for Healthcare gets massive boost In DRC by LAURE MIRUHO WENE, Community Manager at GoShop Energy
14 Mar 2024

As previously mentioned in this report, C&I continues to grow and dominate the African solar eco-system. Specific types of end-user’s activity have been particularly active this year with installing solar for their consumption at their office or factories. Mines in various countries have represented a big share of the newly installed capacity for C&I in 2023. But one country and one end-user type have really stood out from all other C&I projects: healthcare facilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2023, 964 healthcare facilities have been solarized in DRC for a total installed capacity of 2.5 MWp and 7.9 MWh of storage.

While the average system size, and hence the total installed capacity, is relatively small, it is the portfolio size which is to be noted, especially in a country with such challenging logistics as the DRC. Before 2023, slightly over 900 health centers had been solarized in Africa. In 2023, through GoShop and partners, this number has more than doubled, giving access to essential health services to more African living in rural areas than ever before.

In 2023, GoShop Energy had the privilege of bringing to fruition several projects aligned with our values and mission. More than 1,000 solar systems have been installed in health centers (964), schools (100) and administrative buildings (28) across the 24 provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These installations were achieved through key partnerships with Sanru, Cordaid, UG-PDSS and Safricas. Each of these partnerships had a specific objective, whether it was the fight against HIV and tuberculosis, the improvement of the infrastructure of health centers, or support for the local development program PDL-145T, dedicated to the fight against poverty and social inequalities.

We have adapted our installations to the specific needs of each site, using various models of solar systems, ranging from 1200VA to 8000VA, with different configurations in terms of lithium and gel-acid storage with solutions of 25 kWh and 9 kWp of solar. We were able to achieve this thanks to our partner suppliers (Victron Energy, BYD, GoSolar, GoPower, Schneider, etc.).

The logistical challenges were significant, notably the supply of equipment and the deployment of systems in sometimes difficult conditions, including in conflict zones. Through careful planning, pre-testing in our workshops and innovative delivery strategies, we overcame these obstacles. Comprehensive training was provided to center managers to ensure efficient and sustainable use of the equipment.

The installation of these solar systems was warmly welcomed, paving the way for a substantial improvement in health and education infrastructure, especially in the most remote regions.

It is estimated that Africa counts around 100,000 public healthcare facilities (this includes facilities of all sizes, ranging from PHC, primary health centers, to large hospitals in cities). It is also estimated that only 25-30% of these facilities have access to reliable electricity, which is essential to deliver health services. Improving the electrification of health facilities in Africa has been identified for decades as one top priority for the development of the continent, and this topic was put back in the spotlight with the pandemic. It is often said and written that electrifying these 70,000 healthcare facilities in Africa will take decades. However, at GoShop, we managed to electrify 1,000 of them in just 1 year. We are convinced that there are other capable solar companies in other countries, as well as other motivated development partners to replicate all around Africa what has been achieved this year in DRC. With joint effort, it should be totally realistic to solarize all healthcare facilities in Africa in a matter of a few years.