Solar Lights Across Africa
To build awareness around the advantages of solar technology and to give credibility to the solar movement in local African communities, SolarAid launched the SunnyMoney social enterprise. SunnyMoney’s focus is on building relationships with local schools to demonstrate how solar lights operate and educating the surrounding communities on the advantages of investing in solar technology. They provide affordable study lights to students and empower shops, traders, and independent agents to sell and distribute a range of solar lights within the community. Through their innovative distribution model, in only seven years SunnyMoney has grown to become the largest seller and distributor of solar lights in Africa, impacting countless lives along the way.
In 2014, CAF America made two grants to SolarAid totalling $421,000. The grants’ primary objectives were to (1) cover SunnyMoney’s costs associated with raising awareness of SolarAid’s research and work and (2) fund the distribution of solar lights in remote rural areas via local school campaigns. As of April 2015, $1,000 of the grant has enabled the distribution of 130 quality-approved solar lights, providing 800 people a safe and efficient light source.
SolarAid is an international charity based in London that is combatting climate change by providing impoverished areas in Africa with access to renewable energy sources. SolarAid was established in 2006 as an independent subsidiary of Solarcentury, a leader in solar technology. SolarAid’s primary mission is to advance public education on solar energy and climate change, while actively working to eradicate the use of kerosene lamps in Africa by 2020.
As many as 58.3 million people throughout Africa are forced to use homemade kerosene lamps as their main light source due to limited electricity infrastructure and lack of grid access.1 These lamps are a poor source of light, restricting the amount of time children are able to study and decreasing the number of hours in the work day. Additionally, kerosene lamps are a health hazard, emitting toxic black smoke that can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system after prolonged exposure. The lack of proper lighting, combined with the long-term health ramifications, results in irreparable harm to the communities that are forced to rely on kerosene.2
1 “Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
2 Operations In Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia With Uganda And Senegal. (n.d.): n. pag. SunnyMoney Social Enterprise. SolarAid. Web.