Moving from dark nights into brighter ones

February 2018

Blog

Meet Mr. Kasanga Alexandre, a refugee from Congo who was one of the very first people to purchase a solar home system as part of the market based project which SNV is facilitating in Kakuma.

Kasanga is a Congolese refugee who fled to Kenya in 2016 with his family of 4, including his wife and 3 children; Zamarade Chibalonza 19, Kasanga Riziki 18 and Kasanga Henry, 16, all of whom are attending vocational training courses nearby.

Mr. Alexandre is a proud and happy owner of a solar home system. Through funding from Energising Development (ENDEV), SNV is currently implementing a market based energy access intervention for refugees and host communities in Kakuma, Turkana County, Kenya.

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Kasanga Riziki, a Congolese refugee preparing dinner under a solar light

Until recently the majority of the low-income refugees at the camp were connected to generators which cost ~ € 11 per month. A key objective of this project is to facilitate access to and use of solar and small electricity services for households and businesses. This will be achieved by establishing and strengthening sustainable and commercially viable supply and distribution models for quality PicoPV (1 – 100 W) products.

Since the launch of the project 3 months ago, over 260 households have been powered by solar home systems only, however, in February 2018, SNV will roll out smaller solar lights (lanterns).

Thanks to the solar home system which the family bought from Azuri technologies, all of his children can now study at home and complete their homework in the evening in their own room. Azuri is one of SNV’s partners in the energy access project recently launched at Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.

“Before I bought this Azuri solar home system my family had to make do with a kerosene lantern which we all shared. It was difficult for my children to study at home.”

In an effort to provide more lighting for his family, Mr Alexandre bought different solar components including a motorbike battery, a cheap solar panel, a car charger and cheap solar bulbs from China. The solar light would provide light for only 2-3 hours in the evening, and the motorbike battery lasted for only 6 months, and then it needed to be replaced. This turned out to be too costly for Mr Alexandre as a refugee with little income. He has since bought his current system for which he has only paid a deposit of KES 1,300 (12,6USD).

“I now have light in all my 3 rooms, and my wife and children have light in the kitchen which means in total we have 4 lights. In addition, I can now charge my phone from home, I can follow the news on my radio and I still have a torch if I need to move around the camp at night.”

 

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Kasanga Alexandre showing us his solar home system

Azuri SHS has very powerful lights and when fully charged the system can provide light for a whole night at mid-level brightness. Azuri has trained users on power use and optimization. “The price is definitely is a little higher than the lower cost solar solutions in the market right now but the Azuri solar home system provides a much better service and brighter light compared to the cheap solar solutions in the Kakuma market.” he said.

Mr. Alexandre continued “We have moved out of dark nights into brighter nights. My wife can cook easily, my children can read comfortably in their room, and my family can now sit together after dinner and share quality time, even out on  the veranda, sharing stories without the fear of scorpions!".

Expert

Sixtus Odumbe

Project Lead Advisor, Renewable Energy


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