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Three ways Africans are making cheap do-it-yourself electricity

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Mike Hutchings/Reuters/File

(Read caption) Environmental activists promoting the use of solar and wind energy engage with locals on a Durban, South Africa, beach last November during a UN conference on climate change. Little by little Africans are finding alternative ways to meet urgent demands for electricity.

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Across Africa, simple carbon-free technologies and local creative partnerships have the electrical juices flowing, expanding grid access and prosperity.

In countries like Kenya and Tanzania, 80 to 90 percent of the population lacks access to electricity from an established grid, according to Fast Company. Although electric grids exist in most urban areas, connecting to them and paying monthly bills is too expensive for most residents. And in rural areas, access is even rarer.

For the 580 million people without grid access on the continent, that means resorting to kerosene lamps that harm health and the environment for meager amounts of light, and walking long distances for simple tasks like charging mobile phones. And as mobile technology use skyrockets in Africa, it's increasingly recognized as an important anti-poverty tool. Being off the grid not only keeps people in the dark. It also keeps people poor.

IN PICTURES: Solar power: Harnessing the sun's energy

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