Grameenphone and University of Oslo team up to bring renewable energy to rural Bangladesh.
In the remote village of Hobigonj, Sylhet, Bangladesh, there is no national power grid to provide electricity to the 20,000 inhabitants. In this same village, Grameenphone has built a network base station running on solar energy. Now in a new pilot project, Grameenphone and the University of Oslo are working together to expand the existing solar power installation and bring electricity to the people.
“In off-the-grid areas such as Hobigonj, Sylhet, we have come to rely on renewable energy to power our base stations,” said Kazi Monirul Kabir, Chief Communications Officer of Grameenphone. “The opportunity now exists for us to be the key enabler of the community power model by having a consistent power requirement for our base station. By providing a stable “anchor” demand, it can open the way for a bigger investment in a village energy system, powering the base station as well as homes and businesses.”
In the first stage of this pilot project, the existing solar power structure will be expanded, and the excess energy produced will be distributed to a limited number of nearby households and markets. The initial goal is to test and further develop this concept.
In phase two of the project, the goal is to provide enough power to supply the entire market, the school, local college, a future health facility and preferably all households in the village.
Grameenphone serves as the key driver behind this initiative, as they are the providers of the mobile base station. In addition to providing electricity to the village, this solar-powered mini-grid will be used to provide mobile-based health information systems to rural areas.
Creating a model that can be replicated
Through this project, Grameenphone and the University of Oslo hope to learn how to successfully implement and socially organize this type of mini power grid, in order to facilitate social and economic development in rural areas of Bangladesh. They have placed emphasis on creating a model that is easily replicable on a large scale.