Life-changing solar technology launched

Nestled on the northern part of South Africa’s Gauteng is a poor rural community. It is here where a local South African company in partnership with a United Kingdom (UK) based company launched one of the world’s latest house and street lighting solar technologies and also an LED light that reduces street light electricity consumption by up to 70%. The launch was held on Friday 27 February 2015.

However, these two companies did not just want to launch these technologies in Sokhulumi rural community, they wanted to change the lives of the four most disadvantaged families there and those of mostly HIV AIDS orphans at the nearby Sizanani informal settlement.

The entire Sizanani informal settlement also had a significant life-changing experience through the donation of a solar street light by the two companies. The solar street light donation has put an end to the local residents’ fear of walking outside at night as the light’s brilliance covers the area almost half the size of a football pitch.

“Our life has totally changed,” said one of the project beneficiaries, Ms Anna Mahlangu.

“The solar lights are keeping us out of the dark and our children are enjoying longer hours of reading.”

Mr Jeffrey Ngwenya, Director of Amadhla (PTY) LTD said that at a time when South Africa is faced with electricity supply challenges, Amadhla (PTY) LTD and Videre Global (UK) LTD would like to work with the government to address this problem through the supply of affordable, long-lasting house and street solar lighting kits.

“Our position is that no one should go without electricity in South Africa,” said Mr Ngwenya. “This is why we have chosen to launch our supply of solar kits in a poor rural community such as Sokhulumi to signal our intention to supply house and street solar lighting kits to all classes in South Africa – the lower, middle and high income classes.”
Mr Craig Morgan, Director of Videre Global (UK) LTD said that they have the capability to supply up to 5,000 units of the Videre Solar Home Lighting Pack within six weeks. The solar home lighting packs donated to the Sokhulumi community were of the highest quality and cost. In this regard, Videre Global would like to open dialogue with South African communities to discover what they consider an affordable price, before supply of the products to the market. He said that this will help ensure that they manufacture solar home lighting technology that South African communities can afford.
“One of the things we can do to cut down costs is to sub-contract to local companies to manufacture some of the components and also in the long-term to assemble the kits locally,“ said Mr Morgan. “One of the advantages of sub-contracting local companies is that it helps to grow the local economy and at the same time helps create employment and sustainability of solar energy technology supply.”
A representative of Tshwane Metro, that is in charge of South Africa’s capital City of Pretoria andneighbouring rural communities and townships’ electricity supply, Mr Jerry Mahlangu welcomed thelaunch of the house and street lighting solar technology as well as the LED light that cuts street lightelectricity consumption by up to 70%.

A collective 70% reduction of South Africa’s street light power consumption is likely to put an end to the ongoing power outages. It also means ESKOM and municipalities can cut down on their street light electricity costs. This is great news for Eskom and municipalities in particular and South Africa in general.

“We want our rural communities, townships and the City of Tshwane to start using street solar lights and the LED light that cut down street light electricity consumption by up to 70% and also the house lighting solar kits,” said Mr Mahlangu. “We would like to invite Amadhla (PTY) LTD and Videre Global (UK) LTD to present to the top management at the City of Tshwane so that a decision can be made to keep our
people out of the dark through the procurement of the technologies launched here today.”

The solar power technology has the capacity to provide indoor lighting for five rooms, while one street light can provide enough light for an area that is almost half the size of a football pitch. Mr Ngwenya said, “One of the benefits of using solar energy both in the house and the streets is that they allow for an uninterrupted power supply. As long as the sun is in existence so will the supply of solar energy.”

The spokesman of the local Chief MP Mahlangu of the Amandebele Nzunza, Gauteng Province, Engineer George Mahlangu thanked Amadhla (PTY) LTD and Videre Global (UK) LTD for the donation that they made to the disadvantaged people from Sokhulumi. He said that solar energy will bring many benefits to rural communities such as Sokhulumi, whose residents do not have enough cash to pay high monthly
bills for electricity.

For the first time, children from these most disadvantaged families will be able to read for longer hours. This creates the opportunity for them to improve their matric passes so that they can be admitted at different higher institutions of learning such as colleges and universities. Thereafter, they stand a good chance to get employed and look after themselves and their families. Apart from looking after their families, the skills that children from these families gain from higher education can benefit their community.

“We believe that upon finishing tertiary education, these children will also come back to develop Sokhulumi through providing scarce skills and services,” said Mr Ngwenya.
Amadhla (PTY) LTD and Videre Global (UK) LTD are both convinced that through the donation of the house and street lighting solar kits to both Sokhulumi and Sizanani rural areas, we have unleashed a development process that signals future changes in the lives of all South Africans, for the better.

”Where women are being raped at night because there are no street lights, this problem should lessen as soon as they have the solar street lights,” said Mr Ngwenya. “Also, where men and women were afraid to walk at night for fear of street muggings, this problem should become less, as soon as these communities start using street lighting.”
Mr Ngwenya said that Amadhla (PTY) LTD and Videre Global (UK) LTD believe that teachers will now be attracted to teach in rural areas because they have solar power that makes them continue with the lifestyle similar to that of urban dwellers.
The Chairman of the Sokhulumi Council of Stakeholders, Mr Mazolman Skhosana thanked Amadhla (PTY) LTD and Videre Global (UK) LTD for the well-meaning donation of house and street lighting solar technology as “it should help improve the school results of learners from the disadvantage families that received the donations.”

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) encourages the use of renewable energy such as solar because it is an alternative, affordable and sustainable type of energy that helps to cut down on global warming causing gases (GHGs) such carbon that is emitted when coal gets burnt to generate electricity. The benefits of cutting down on GHGs include both environmental and human wellbeing.

Meanwhile, a Trade and Investment Officer of the British Government’s South Africa Trade and Investment Office, Hellen Adogo said that they would like to continue supporting UK-based companies such as Videre Global (UK) LTD, that are making efforts towards bringing meaningful development interventions to South Africa.
GDARD’s Rural Development Branch facilitated the donation of the house and street lighting solar technology as part of its ongoing efforts towards promoting private sector investment in rural communities.

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Andy Smith
Videre Global
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