Summary

Solar: ZAMBIA is a project to deliver solar-powered LED light/cell phone charge kits to rural Zambian families who do not have electric power. With the kits, children can study at night and their families can charge their cell phones to market their crops. The project will provide direct benefits while proving that with some ambition and effort, anyone can be impactful.

  • Education: promote studying by providing nighttime lighting
  • Savings: promote savings by eliminating kerosene/candles purchases
  • Financial literacy: promote sound financial decisions in households and business
  • Commerce: promote trade and marketing of goods by charging mobile phones
  • 100% of on-line donations go towards purchasing the solar led kits
  • Empowered by Light’s staff is comprised of volunteers and professionals donating their time for free

Solar: ZAMBIA is partnering with the leading Zambian bank, Zanaco, to provide financial literacy training to kit recipients as well. Recipient families will be able to open a deposit account, to bank their savings from no longer buying inefficient kerosene lanterns. The eco-media company SHFT.com will produce a documentary about the project, to shine a spotlight on the enormous “return on investment” that is possible. Donate to deliver a solar kit and bring light to a Zambian family!

Background: The Opportunity

With a relatively small investment, the project can dramatically improve the lives of rural Zambian children and farmers. Western societies electrified their countryside so long ago that the memory of the transformative event has faded. Delivering the inexpensive, advanced technologies of the kits allows families to leapfrog decades of national development and participate in more benefits of the modern world.

An estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity, denying them many of the benefits of the modern world. In rural Zambia, only 2% of people have grid power. Providing access to power has proven to be enormously beneficial to people’s education, health, and livelihood. Key opportunities include:

  1. Providing inexpensive electric lighting encourages nighttime activities such as schoolwork and reading
  2. Displacing open-flame kerosene lamps and candles saves households money, while eliminating the hazards of fire, burn, and respiratory disease
  3. Providing local power enables greater use of mobile telephones, which can help farmers market their goods, serve as a payment mechanism, and generally connect rural families and communities

A subsistance farmer who works by day might burn a candle or kerosene lamp for a limited time after dark. With these kits, rural families will be able to healthfully carry on with their lives at night. They can do things like read, bath, and cook, improving their overall standard of living. Many off-grid families do not have a nearby place to charge their cell phones, but with the kit they can readily and cheaply charge their phone and be connected to commerce and the outside world.

The ability to study at night is perhaps the greatest benefit of the kits. Many student end their schooling while still children and begin working. In Zambia, the secondary education (from age 10 to high school) enrollment rate is 24%. The ability to do schoolwork at night can enable children to stay in school longer or raise their performance. For example, as reported in the New York Times, a Kenyan mother said that a similar device enabled her child to study at night and jump from 28th in his class to 5th.

The profound benefit of electrifying the energy poor in Africa is why the World Bank Group embarked on its Lighting Africa initiative in 2008. This World Bank Group initiative is aimed at providing up to 250 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa with access to low cost, reliable lighting that is non-fossil-fuel based and safe.