Tesla boss Elon Musk said the company had Africa in mind when it developed the wall-mounted energy source. Just like the mobile phone allowed the continent to surge ahead in internet connectivity, so a battery pack that can power a home or business could allow Africans to leapfrog the limits of the grid.
The company has promised to release the technology into the public domain, encouraging others to develop their own models using the open source data.
At $3,500 (£2,267) for the 10 kilowatt hours version or $3,000 for a 7KWh version it’s still relatively expensive, but within a few years the price is expected to dropas others develop their own models.
Africa is the world’s most energy-scarce continent. Sub-Saharan Africa has an installed capacity equivalent to that of Spain, and half of it is in South Africa alone.
But perhaps more importantly, Africa could become the global centre for green energy. Thanks to the expansive Sahara desert, strong winds along its coasts and its flat, arid interior, and geothermal reserves all along the Rift Valley, the continent has the world’s highest reserves of renewable energy resources.
Here are three ways the new battery could make an impact:
Disengaging from government
With the possibility of being entirely off-grid, the home battery could finalise the disconnection of African everyday life from the happenings in the political sphere.
Traditionally, the relationship between a government and its people is one of bartering political support for the provision of services, such as roads, schools, electricity, water and security.
But increasingly, African life today is characterised by an extensive retreat of the state from these functions.
In Kenya, for example, the number of private primary schools rose nearly 1,000%in a decade, while the number of government primary schools grew just 40%.