We Celebrate Earth Day with Clean Energy in Rural South Sudan

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To anyone here in the U. S. where electricity is common, it is not unusual to see lights emitting from windows at night. In rural South Sudan, however, electricity is almost non-existent, so these lights coming from our multi-purpose community center in the village of Rhumathoi, Wunlang Payam, are the cause of much excitement for all of us at Village Help for South Sudan. We celebrate Earth Day 2013 with clean energy and the benefits this brings to Rhumathoi – and the environment!

Solar Panels

With support from IEEE’s Community Solutions Initiative, the solar electric generating system at the center is now complete. This project not only provides lighting for the facility, but the system will be run as a small business by a community-elected energy entrepreneur who will sell electricity to rural homes at prices the local residents can afford. Proceeds pay the entrepreneur’s income as well as operations costs at the multi-purpose community center. Mou Riiny, our electrical engineer, and his team completed a market survey several months ago to determine the price rural customers can pay for electricity.

Interior ComponentsInterior Components

PBK

Residential electricity is provided in the form of take-home rechargeable battery packs and lighting kits (PBKs). The initial pilot will test a PBK from BBOXX which has similar operations in other countries in Africa. IEEE-CSI has developed an open-source design for another PBK (pictured here), however, and our goal is to set up an assembly plant in South Sudan to produce these units locally.

PBK

Our solar business pilot aims to help Mou Riiny establish his for-profit social enterprise to be called SunGate Solar. SunGate will be owned and operated by Mou, and will provide jobs and opportunity to many of his fellow South Sudanese citizens. Mou’s initial solar project is now operating in the village of Thiou at our primary school for that area.

*Social enterprises are businesses that:

  1. Use the marketplace to solve pressing social problems.
  2. Have a primary purpose to do social good.
  3. Serve the common good, making money while solving social problems.
  4. Are values-led and committed to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
  5. Use the power of business for positive social change.
  6. Believe the bottom line and social change can be hardwired together.
  7. Develop and sell products or services that address social or environmental issues.
  8. Are values-centered, transparent, and in business for the benefit of all stakeholders.
  9. Are dedicated to making a sustained, positive impact on social and environmental change.
  10. Believe what is good for the world is good for business.

*Source: npEnterprise Forum edited by Rolfe Larson

See more pictures from the solar installation at the Rhumathoi community center here.