Solar power in the place of the rising dawn

Project 90 by 2030 wins Most Inventive Rural Electrification Project Award at recent Africa Energy Awards for its innovative, participatory developmental initiative in the rural community of Msobomvu.  Cape Town – 22 April 2013

The Africa Energy Awards celebrate performers that contribute towards the development and success of energy projects across the continent.

Project 90 is a Cape Town based not–‐for–‐profit change–‐focused organisation.  Through its Community Partnership Programme, the organisation began working with communities in 2012, to provide comprehensive energy and water solutions who do not have security of access to energy and water supply.

The key element of the programme is the approach to engaging with the communities to build authentic partnership.  Project 90 is pioneering an approach to effectively introduce energy and water security focused technologies in off–‐grid communities using principles of Participatory Community Engagement .

Project 90 began an active partnership with the community of Msobomvu (“the red of the rising dawn”), a small but vibrant, rural village of around 250 households, located outside of East London.   The village is close–‐knit and has actively worked together to secure services (such as mobile clinic visits and school transportation) for residents, but has not had access to reliable energy and water supplies.

In mid–‐2012, following extensive consultation a community decision was taken to focus specifically on cooking and lighting needs as the energy solution ‘basket’ for the community, with the introduction of energy efficient cook–‐stoves and Wonderbags in late 2012.

As part of the energy solution ‘basket’, innovative solar home lighting kits were assembled and installed by volunteer residents into 240 homes in Msobomvu, with more units to be assembled and installed throughout the year.  Some features of the units, which are particularly attractive:

The entire system is portable.  Even if lights are fixed, the PV panel remains portable; The PV panel can be tilted and moved for best sun exposure available; Components are easily unplugged from the rest of the system to be moved and stored as needed; and, the unit includes a 12V mobile phone charger, saving the residents up to 5km of walking, and R5 per recharge of their phones.

Project 90 focuses on building partnerships and aims to address challenges beyond energy, such as water and food security, strengthening community engagement structures, social enterprise and skills training.  Broader community development goals underpin all of the solutions identified.  This also ensures longer–‐term sustainability of the projects and a learning culture aimed at constant improvement.

Project 90 will continue to engage and work with the community of Msobomvu for the remainder of 2013.

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