24 Feb 2012

Undertaking a Journey to Develop Rural Communities through Solar Electrification

HRH Prince Africa Zulu of Onkweni royal House, a descendent of Prince Shingana KaMpande, undertakes a journey to develop rural communities through solar electrification.

Immersed by ordinary people’s concerns in the rural areas and searching for ways to improve their life circumstances, Prince Africa has become passionate about affordable, renewable, sustainable energy – a means which he firmly believes can fast-track his nation’s way towards a better, brighter future. For with energy comes development, the creation of jobs, infra structure, schools, clinics, water sanitation, and access to a whole range of appliances that can make the lives of his people easier, more enriched and more enlightened.

Take a simplest thing: an electrical light bulb.  Something we take so for granted we hardly notice anymore.  But this humblest of devices can open a new world to previously disadvantaged people. With electric light, there’s a possibility to finish homework after dark, read books, study, tell stories and enjoy a wealth of family and social activities.


 Access to the Grid is not an option

One of the saddest realities is that many rural dwellers often live in the most remote areas. The chances of their having access to the national electricity grid within the next 20 years is about as realistic as finding Aladdin’s lamp in a nearby cave.


Existing systems for heating and lighting are exorbitant

Africa’s rural (and urban) poor are often at the mercy of unscrupulous merchants – who charge premiums for paraffin, the most widely-used fuel source aside from dwindling wood resources.   Other sources are equally costly: candles, charcoal, wood-fuel and generators.


Innovative New Solar System discovered

HRH believes that a lot of solutions are necessary for the development of life in the rural and urban areas that would not pose a threat to the environment. In his quest to find a viable, sustainable energy source, Prince Africa patners with specialized Solar Systems (SSS), in order to make the campaign to provide electricity to rural households a possible dream. Specialized Solar Systems (SSS) is an innovative company based in George on the Garden Route, which provides complete off-grid electrification (with optional back-up) to rural and undeveloped communities in South Africa.


This new technology certainly ticks all the right boxes!

Using DC (direct current) technologies, rather than the more traditional AC (alternating current), SSS has been able to develop an off-grid solar system that is far safer (no open flames) and is made to the highest safety and design specifications.  Because it’s a modular system, it offers an incredible degree of design flexibility that can be adapted to the needs of any home or dwelling, or large-scale project (eg an entire village).

Pilot studies already undertaken in Thembalethu, a disadvantaged area near George, showed a remarkable savings of around 60% in running costs compared to traditional paraffin usage.


Not just about sales

SSS has been working together with universities, NGOs, local government and local communities and their leaders to determine the best ways of getting these affordable, renewable energy systems to the people in a sustainable manner.  With years of research, development and testing – both of the products and the people who would be using them – an extensive training division and programme have been developed.


Community Support and Job Creation

A vital aspect of getting these off-grid solar energy systems safely installed and providing lasting, hassle-free energy is for the people or end-users to take ownership of the scheme.  Management, training, job creation, maintenance and production opportunities are specifically in place to empower individuals and the community as a whole.


Solar is the Way Forward

Prince Africa has given SSS his stamp of approval. These DC off-grid solar energy systems provide clean, affordable, renewable energy.  They also provide enormous potential for development as a community-based, social enterprise that will continue to expand and flourish – for as long as the sun shines over Africa.

For further information on Specialized Solar Systems please visit their site at www.specializedsolarsystems.co.za or send an email: info@specializedsolarsystems.co.za

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