Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ending the use of paraffin by 2020 with Solar Aid and Sunny Money

It is estimated that over 110 million households, translating 600 million people in Africa have no access to Electricity. In Malawi, only 7% of the population has access to electricity. The other 93% use paraffin (kerosene) to light their homes. Even though it is used by a majority of the population, paraffin is known to be a dangerous fuel, a major cause of home accidents, is expensive, and is not a healthy option. Paraffin's impact on climate change is also well documented.

Imagine a world without Kerosene! This is an ambitious goal of one leading international charity organisation, SolarAid. Founded in 2006 by Jeremy Leggett a British green-energy entrepreneur, author and activist who is also a founder and chairman of Solarcentury, the UK’s largest independent solar electric company and Chairman of the Carbon Tracker Initiative.

Solar Aid is operating in five African countries of Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi through a wholly owned social initiative, Sunny Money. Sunny Money was founded in 2008 to be part of an innovative charitable model that takes a business approach in tackling poverty and climate change.

In Africa, Sunny Money is offering a low cost, safe, clean and brighter alternative to the use of paraffin. they have a wide range of solar lamps that are being distributed in the five countries through a well coordinated network of schools and agents. As of 28th September 2014, 1,340, 490 solar lamps have been sold according to their website.

In Malawi, Sunny Money is working with the Ministry of Education and a team of agents across the Central and Northern Region of Malawi. According to the Operations Director, Francois Gordon, in the 2014 country report (PDF), 22,800 lights were sold in 2013 translating into 125,000 people accessing clean, bright and safe light. 52,000 people accessed better health because of the reduced use of kerosene. It is also estimated that 74 million hours extra study time for children using solar lights for homework was achieved.

There are several types of solar lamps on sale in Malawi with prices ranging from 10USD(MK4,000) to 140USD (MK56,000) with a minimum of one year warranty. It is very cheaper to use one of these solar lamps because it is a one off payment unlike kerosene which is bought almost every time it is needed. A research (PDF)conducted by the Sunny Money team in its communities concluded that:

• Solar lights save money, reducing their cost-of-living by 10-20% monthly (an average of $117/year)

• Increased income – significant positive impact on productivity and income generation

• Increased study time, children are able to study after dark resulting in two or more extra hours a per night

• Improved health – reduced exposure to kerosene’s toxic fumes, reduction in coughing, eye irritation and risk of burns

• Environmental benefits - reduced CO2 emission (released when burning kerosene) and improvements in quality of ambient (indoor) air

credits: pictures from solaraid and sunnymoney websites, facts from Malawi country report and sunnymoney media kit.