IN Chongwe District, far from the grid of power lines, telephone poles and power transformers, the village of Mulalika has been learning to live with solar energy.
Located some 45 minutes from Lusaka by way of a rocky dirty road, this small village sits on the cutting edge of a modern-day industrial revolution.
Despite being in close proximity to Lusaka town, most of the local people still go through the hardship of travelling some 41 Km to Chongwe town to buy candles to light up their homes.
This means that they have to temporarily suspend their daily chores of farming activities and businesses to ensure that they have adequate kerosene and candles, which could be dangerous if not properly handled.
Life and property have been lost before due to mishandling of candles and kerosene.
According to health experts, kerosene has an effect on human beings and the environment.
Kerosene fills lungs and homes with harmful smoke that causes headache, respiratory infections, and eye strain because it is highly flammable and toxic.
School children like 14-year-old Charity Banda keen to study at night has no option but to cover the long distance to Mulalika Basic School to study whenever she is faced with challenges of lacking kerosene or candles.
Charity and her colleagues have to walk in the dark after evening studies with fear and worried about being raped or defiled.
Those with mobile phones are not an exception as they have to take the same route to find where there is power in order to charge their gadgets.
This has resulted in many problems which are however not part of this article.
The story is however different with the coming of Sunny Money, a social enterprise owned and funded by the United Kingdom charity Solar Aid.
The entity has so far offloaded, 90,000 solar lights and mobile phone chargers have been brought into the country since 2010.
It has sold more than one million solar lights to families living without electricity in rural Africa.
In a country where 78 per cent of the population is off the grid, over 90,000 solar lights and mobile phone chargers have been purchased to date.
Portable pico-solar lights (under 10 Watts) and mobile phone chargers are proving a popular investment for Zambians because of their measurable benefits in terms of the quality of life.
Mulalika Basic School Head Teacher Tyson Hachilangu was thrilled to have SunnyMoney solar products not only at his school but in the community as well.
Mr Hachilangu has sold over 100 solar lamps and charging devices within his community thus reducing on the cost of doing business and giving opportunities for children to read after dark.
“We have been experiencing immmeasureable benefits in terms of school performance, income generation, health, security and productivity,” he said.
This has also helped in reducing the incidences of houses being gutted by fire as a result of paraffin and candles.
“I am happy because people are no longer restricted by the length of the candles or the amount of paraffin they have, they can use the
solar lights throughout the night as long as it is fully charged.
My children at school are able to study and this has helped us to improve
on the grades despite the various factors being at play. We are very happy now that cases of rape will reduce as well as children will no longer move in the night to come and study at school,” Mr Hachilangu said.
He pointed out that the school was being weighed down due to the traffic of people charging their mobile phones now with the solar chargers such as ‘Sunking Pro’; they are able to charge their phones at their own comfort.
“We had a very big challenge not only from the teachers but from the community they used to come to the school to charge their mobile phones because we have a solar system in the school.
The school was over-loaded meaning that the whole community was coming
to the school to charge their phones so we had a big problem,” he said.
Mulalika Basic School has about 1,044 pupils.
Now with solar lights and mobile phone chargers, shops are now opened as late as 20 hours or beyond and farmers are able to shell their maize in the night, thanks to the solar lights.
In order to continue bringing clean, safe affordable lighting to the Zambian rural community, Sunny Money global marketing director Cindy Kerr said the firm intends to offload about 86,000 solar lights and mobile phone charges this year.
Since 2008, the company had been bringing clean, safe affordable lighting to over six million people in Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.
This unprecedented achievement is the first milestone towards a joint mission with a UK charity Solar Aid to eradicate the kerosene lamp for lighting from Africa by 2020.
Ms Kerr explained that Sunny Money had now sold over one million solar lights to families living without electricity in rural Africa.
“Portable pico-solar lights (under 10 Watts) and mobile phone chargers are proving a popular investment for Zambians because of their measurable benefits in terms of quality of life,” she said.
The largest seller and distributor of solar lights on the continent, with over 1.1 million sales to date, SunnyMoney has been positively impacting communities without electricity since launching in 2008.
That means we’re making life brighter for more than six million East Africans. Education authorities, teachers, community leaders and families in rural areas are experiencing measureable benefits in terms of school performance, income generation, health, security and productivity,” Ms Kerr said.
Sunny Money Operations Director Sarah Bentley said: “for Zambian families and communities off the grid, using solar lights improves children’s study time from one to three hours, and makes the home a safer and healthier environment, providing bright light every night.”she said.
In addition, impact research demonstrates that household savings are subsequently spent on improved nutrition, school fees and business inputs. These savings are going right back into the family and the community.
“The demand for affordable, durable and long-lasting solar lights increases every day.
In the past, Zambian families and communities have been forced to rely on toxic paraffin or candles for lighting,” Ms Bentley said.
She and her team work with independent agents who buy solar lights and phone chargers and sell them in their communities to earn money.
Mary Niyrenda of Choma says Sunny Money solar lights are safe and reduce the risk of fire in the home.
Times of Zambia