Electricity shortage is a common problem in the nation of Sierra Leone’s experience. Now a public-private partnership funded by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization is planning to bring solar power to some of the areas that need it most.
In the western African country, just less than 10 percent of its population has access to electricity and those that do subsequently suffer from high prices due to inefficient and costly generators.
The Unido is planning to address this problem in several locations by funding 13 turn-key solar photovoltaic power plants. Laos-based social enterprise Sunlabob Renewable Energy has been awarded two contracts for the design, supply, installation and local training of these projects.
Sunlabob specializes in renewable energy and clean water projects in developing countries. To complete the solar P.V. plants – twelve 5-kilowatt peak plants and one 16 kWp plant – they will work with local partners.
They will also provide hands-on usage and maintenance training with community members to establish awareness and understanding to allow prolonged operations of solar P.V. plants.
“Providing off-grid areas with renewable energy not only enables dependable and affordable electricity, but also opens the door to positive, long-term social and economic development,” said Andy Schroeter, Sunlabob’s founder and chief executive officer.
The off-grid solar P.V. projects are expected to help promote Sierra Leone’s economic growth, delivering a reliable power supply in education and training facilities.
Universities and centers will be able to use computers, internet and other communication tools to improve education opportunities and learn skills necessary in local enterprise development, said Sunlabob.
Sunlabob previously designed, installed and provided community training for 53 kWp solar P.V. plants across three industrial growth centers in Sierra Leone in 2012. These plants are paving the way for agricultural entrepreneurship training and development for rural youth and young adults in underprivileged communities, according to the company.
Within Africa, Sunlabob already built solar power facilities in rural areas of Liberia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Guinea Bissau, and is currently working to light up over 60 schools throughout Uganda in partnership with the World Bank. – EcoSeed Staff
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