Solar 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. Hard copy (PDF), online version.  

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


Solar Power 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.


Need for Cleaner and Affordable Light More 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.

Doing 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 expensive

Solution — Africa is blessed with plentiful of sunlight all year round, solar power can make this an issue of yesterday.



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