kit could light African homes, brighten lives -
This story written by
Mike Irwin in the Wenatchee World newspaper (October 27, 2011)
summarizes how the idea of Light 4 Village project started.
Light 4 A Village - Article published by Wenatchee Valley
College, Quarterly Discover Magazine, Winter 2012, Vol.16(1).
Hard copy (PDF)
Consider a contribution
to Light for Village project
Rwanda, a small landlocked country located in central Africa has the
first and the largest grid-linked solar energy installation in Africa.
But, less than 10% of the population is connected to the grid. There are
a few small scale installations mounted on the roofs of hospitals and
schools, but a wide penetration into family homes is lacking largely due
to expensive solar panels, battery banks, and house wiring.
The government has an ambitious plan to install renewable energy sources
such as solar power to 50% of schools further than 5 km from the grid by
2012. This will not only provide much needed light, but they will also
power laptops that are slowly being introduced into classrooms through
the One Laptop per Child program led by Nicholas Negroponte. They are
also considering the idea of “Solar Kiosks”, a central solar battery
charging station where rural communities can rent charged batteries for
a small fee. In the end, rural schools will have electricity and laptops will be
powered while at school, but pupils will still need lights to do their
homework and a way to recharge laptops so they can continue to use them
at home. Solar Kiosks will be implemented, but villagers will have to
buy rechargeable batteries and will have to pay a fee to have them
charged. How much light those mini-systems will give you and what
devices you can run off them is still questionable. That is where Light
for Village solar system comes in.
Light for Village is an alternative solar power generator designed to
provides enough light for the entire household, charge cell phones,
power small radio, and possibly power laptops. The system is relatively
inexpensive with very minimal maintenance cost. The system can even be
an income generator for a family charging cell phones or other rechargeable
devices for a small fee.
for Cleaner and Affordable Light
than 80% of families in Sub-Sahara Africa and many other parts of
underdeveloped countries miss out on the benefits enjoyed by those who
live in cities and who can afford electricity. Families use firewood and
kerosene for cooking and lighting despite the fact that this increases
deforestation and air pollution. This is a huge health and environmental
concern. Smoke from burning firewood and fumes from kerosene are a
health hazard that affect everyone including infants and school
children. Cost associated with a modern light bulb and batteries for a
flashlight or a small AM/FM Radio is beyond the scope of subsistence
livelihood of most villagers. They may afford an AM/FM radio, but
batteries are extremely expensive given that those families live on less
than one dollar per day. They have no idea of what is happening in their
own country let alone the other parts of the world. Information related
to important topics such as education, peace and reconciliation, birth
control, AIDS prevention, and sanitation go unheard.
homework by fire light is nearly impossible. Sharing a kerosene lamp
between pupils and other family members makes it impractical to do
schoolwork. Time and energy spent fetching firewood could be used for
better development projects. Kerosene, candles, and batteries are
Africa is blessed with plentiful of sunlight all year round,
solar power can make this an issue of yesterday.