Afghanistan has one of the lowest rates of electricity usage in the world. Currently only 38 per cent of the population are connected to the grid as poor infrastructure has been exacerbated by years of conflict. The mountainous terrain and remoteness of many communities also make it prohibitively expensive to install grid electricity in much of the country. Afghanistan does, however, have one relatively inexpensive resource in abundance: its arid, sunny climate make it an ideal location for solar power. As part of a project, the NGO Norwegian Church Aid has introduced solar power to communities in four Afghan provinces previously cut off from electricity supplies.
The project is based on the barefoot movement in India. This aims to empower rural communities and develop skills by training local, often uneducated, people, to adopt, manage and own sophisticated technologies such as solar power without the need for external technicians.