SolarAid is a Non Governmental Organization dedicated to bringing the power of the sun to people living in places that are just simply beyond the reach of such modern technologies as the electric grid. Their website has a wealth of information about solar energy, and the work that they are doing.
SolarAid aims to enable the world’s poorest people to have clean, renewable power. Solar power leads to better education, health, safety and income by allowing poor communities to cook, pump water, run fridges, store vaccines, light homes, schools, clinics and businesses, power computers and homes, farm more effectively, and much more.
SolarAid carries out DIY solar projects – training local communities how to build small scale solar devices such as solar powered radios and lanterns – and installs small solar systems for community centres, medical clinics, schools and other such communal infrastructure.
In reading through some of their materials and watching videos on the project, there are some connections to the Lighting Africa initiative by the World Bank, but I don’t see that the organizations have a formal relationship.
Microsolar, a ground-breaking model
Our microsolar approach is pioneering. We identify entrepreneurs in developing countries, who we then train in business planning, market research and solar skills. We help them set up their solar microbusinesses so that they can build and sell solar lanterns and solar chargers for radios and mobile phones. This came out of research that we carried out that showed that the average household in a developing country spends between 10-20% of its income on kerosene for lighting, single use batteries for their radios, and charging their mobile phones. That’s a lot of money, plus kerosene smoke is toxic, single use batteries are polluting, and mobile phone chargers need access to the electric grid, which most rural areas in developing countries do not have and probably will never have.
Airbone pollutants are a major cause of childhood respiratory illnesses, and helping people to convert their lighting fuel from unsustainable kerosene to renewable solar or hand cranked lanterns can make an enormous change in the lives of many people worldwide.