Serious solar technology deployment requires heavy government involvement against very cheap natural gas that is even killing coal now, not to mention solar, wind, and other renewable sources of energy...therefore Africa is the last place on earth where you would deploy solar on a massive scale despite the fact they get lots of sun activity there...Kris
@Peter Clarke: the printed plastic solar cells are quite low in efficiency (most in single digits!) and is not the best choice for indoor lighting. I have seen many solar lanterns being sold in India that use crystalline solar technology that seem to do the job for 2 to 3 hours. Given volume production, these have better chances of seeing success than low cost printed solar.
This sounds like an adaptation of the ubiquitous solar landscaping lights. I think they are even less than $50. I've had some running for 7 years. Not bright enough to illuminate a table, for instance, but with today's technology they would be better and do more.
Worldwide, there is high pressure on solar subsidies, but in Africa, the price point of solar is below market rates.
That said, this article is not about large scale solar but small scale solar for lighting primarily which is not subsidy driven. We are talking $50 (or less) lanterns that are leased. The cost of the lantern is covered by what would have been spent in kerosene.