Our SunGate Solar Project Seeks Volunteers

Friends: we are developing an Android app to support our solar entrepreneurs in managing customers and payments for our rural solar electrification project. We are looking for a couple of volunteers to help with (1) writing the user guide for the app and (2) testing the app. If you are experienced in either or both of these areas, please contact us.

Our big solar year in South Sudan

Mou Riiny presenting at IEEE's 2014 GHTC conferenceMou Riiny at a solar charging station in South Sudan

Mou Riiny, who leads our solar energy initiative, is pictured above. On the left he presents an update at the Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in San Jose, California, last month. The picture on the right shows Mou sitting with an energy entrepreneur operator recently at the site of one of our solar energy charging stations in a village marketplace in South Sudan. These are the two “worlds” Mou has lived in for much of his life – the last 2 years as our Manager of sustainable energy services for rural South Sudan. Our rural energy solutions give a humanitarian jump-start for solar energy installations and make the clean energy sustainable by training local community technicians and energy business operators who sell the electricity to rural customers at locally-affordable prices. Customers light their homes and power small electric devices such as cell phones with portable battery kits (PBKs) which they lease from the operator for a small monthly fee. They return to the charging station whenever the PBK needs to be recharged. Merchants and others in the marketplace bring their cell phones to the charging station to be recharged – here with clean solar energy rather than the typical diesel generators that pollute the marketplaces in South Sudan. Here are a few more pictures of the solar energy business in Akuem – near Aweil in South Sudan. Akuem solar energy station Customer PBKs being charged in Akuem Solar energy entrepreneur in Akuem Customers waiting for their PBKs Installing solar panel array

Our one million goal We have made a small but important dent in our aim to help bring lighting to one million people in South Sudan. We now have eight operating stations across three states. To date about 700 households have received electricity through our PBKs from eight stations, including one station that supports our community center and one that supports a primary school in the area. With an average of 7 people per household, we have now affected the lives of 4,900 people.

Jobs Created One of our core principles is that our solutions should be sustainable locally Solar technical teamand raise the standard of living for the rural villagers of South Sudan. This begins with empowering the locals with the skills to do their own work. For our solar initiative, we have now trained technicians, business managers, and energy station operators. The number of jobs created by this project now stands at eleven and will soon grow to eighteen when this project is complete. These locals have already earned more than $15,500 since the project started two years ago. Solar entrepreneur Akueny

Business Operation One operator, Akueny Luol says from Warawar, “I like this work. Solar batteries (PBKs) help the local people. They do not need to come to the town to charge their phones. Light is saving lives. People can see anything on the ground at night including poison snakes. People who have received PBKs in Warawar are very happy, but there are many more people who need them…No single problem has come up since my Center was opened. Every month I will collect the fees from our customers… People were trained when they received PBKs including who will be in charge of a unit at home. I would like to have more training with electricity to help me do my job better… We need more centers to be opened because we have many more people who want to receive electricity.”

Inside a solar charging station

Future Plans for Expanding the Initiative Based on the success of our rural solar electrification pilot, our future plans to expand the project include:

  • Broaden the PBK solution to meet demand, cover a larger territory, and light more homes
  • Pilot test a configuration that includes a solar panel in a stand-alone solar energy system sized for rural homes
  • Pilot a large solar setup for offices and homes in a more urban area
  • Pilot retail sales of solar lanterns for small area lighting and night-time reading
  • Continue and expand our technical and business training

Adult learning center

Help us light up rural South Sudan!

Your tax-deductible contribution will help brighten the homes, schools, and futures of South Sudanese families living in energy poverty and the enormous obstacles they endure.

Thank you!

 

SunGate Solar

Village Help for South Sudan is supporting the start-up of SunGate Solar, a social enterprise that will provide solar electricity, energy business solutions, and training to rural South Sudan. Mou Riiny, our Project Manager for this initiative, will be SunGate’s CEO. More information to follow.