Computers can be added to the curriculum (computer education is compulsory in Zambia, Uganda and expected to be required in Tanzania and yet the majority of schools have no access to power – even if computers were available)
The provision of high quality light during night births is the single biggest contributor to reductions in maternal and foetal mortality and complications. Power allows vaccines and medicines to be stored in refrigerators (preserving the cold chain) and can allow a wide range of diagnostic and treatment equipment to be provided such as nebulizers to treat the harmful effects of inhaling smoke from kerosene lamps and open cooking fires.
for night markets, allowing greater productivity to farmers and shoppers alike. Rental revenue from the stall holders can cover the cost of the provision of street lights both in the market and surrounding streets to provide a safe environment.
Health clinics can provide better health care with even small amounts of power. Bright lights help in diagnosis and are particularly important for night-time births, where lighting is the biggest contributor to reduction in maternal and foetal deaths and complications. Power allows vaccines and medicines to be stored in refrigerators (preserving the cold chain) in both health clinics and dispensaries. Ever more diagnostic equipment is becoming battery powered and hence highly efficient, and cell phones can be used to send pictures of complications as referrals to distant consultants.
In the home, replacement of candles and kerosene lighting reduces smoke in houses, lowering the incidence of respiratory illnesses. It is significant that women and girls, who spend more time indoors, have a 30% greater incidence of respiratory disease and that the sole electrically-powered treatment equipment specified for Zambian health clinics is a nebulizer.
Malaria is a major contributor to ill-health in Africa. Africa Power is working to lower the cost of solar powered mosquito repellent systems as part of the Solar Home Systems.
Africa Power has sourced high efficiency (solar compatible) computers. By lowering the power requirements, much smaller solar/battery power systems can be used lowering the costs of providing computing classes. Lights allow evening study including opportunities for evening adult educational programmes and meetings.
It is difficult to study by the flickering, hot smoky and dim light produced by candles and Kerosene. Studies have shown that bright, cool, clean, flicker-free LED lighting increases children’s evening study and homework by an hour a day.
In launching the UN Sustainable Energy for all, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon referenced the power of light to increase educational opportunities:
I understand the importance of energy from my own experience. When I was a young boy in post-war Korea, I studied by a dim and smoky oil lamp at night….When I became a freshman at college in 1963, a simple light bulb illuminated a whole new world of opportunity for me, enabling me to study day and night. Can you believe that I am now the Secretary-General of the United Nation?
High efficiency solar powered LED lights are available with integral solar panels making the provision of street lights cost-effective. These can be paid for by holding evening markets and charging “stall-holders” for the light. The dues collected can pay both for the market lighting and in nearby streets making it safer for women to be out at night.
Moving markets from day to evening, increases the productivity of farmer who can use daylight to tend their crops. With night-time markets, women can take up day-time jobs as shopping can move into the evening. Provision of solar lights for shops extends this concept.
Clean water is a basic human need and substantially lowers the incidence of water borne and often fatal diseases. In many cases, water needs to be pumped from underground wells. The labour for fetching and carrying water falls almost exclusively on women and children.
High efficiency electric water pumps are now available and can be connected directly to solar panels eliminating the costs and added maintenance requirements of batteries. Large water tanks provide overnight storage of water at a cost substantially less than storing electricity.