During our ‘enforced’ stay here in The Gambia, West Africa – whilst waiting for our delayed/lost shipment of expedition gear to arrive – we’ve serendipitously met some inspirational people who we wouldn’t perhaps otherwise have connected with if we’d already left for the River Gambia Expedition when we were supposed to (3 weeks ago!).
One of those people, Miriam Gyamfi, came to Sandele recently on a yoga retreat, with her dog, Hero, in tow and some amazing solar-charged LED (light emitting diode) lights and torches.
A SUSTAINABLE Solar Lighting Project. Light up a Village using your Corporate Responsibility – An Initiative devised by ComAfrique – with LIghts from InteliZon and supported by partners like TATA Africa (Senegal) and Western India Cashew Company. Bringing Light to Africa – An Entrepreneurial initiative from India – in Partnership with Africa
About: ‘The ComAfrique InteliZon Initiative was founded in 2009 with the aim to realize green, decentralized and low cost lighting in rural areas of Africa. The eradication of the use of candles and kerosene lanterns which are costly and dangerous was one of the main targets from the first day on.
Knowing a great solar product, the ‘ZonLights’ from India, it was obvious for the founder of the Initiative, Mr Ram Mohan that this product needed to be introduced to the African market.’
After a truly inspiring and enlightening (excuse the pun) meeting with CEO and founder of the Initiative, Ram Mohan, Miriam and the other two team members, Famara and Rakib, Florio and I very gratefully walked away with a number of lights, torches and solar panels, for the River Gambia Expedition.
‘Not having ZonLights people would be dependent on buying a daily candle to secure basic lighting. The price for a daily candle is on average about US$0,20 in most parts of West Africa. Using one candle per night most households spend at least US$6 per month or US$73 per year on basic and dangerous illumination.
Using ZonLights villagers do not have to invest into candles anymore. Instead they subscribe to a contract: In the moment of receiving a ZonLight they commit to pay a daily fee of US$0.05 for the usage of the light. Over six years (the life span of a ZonLight) this means that every light collects about US$110 (a daily candle would cost about US$438 in six years). This means that using ZonLights every villager saves about 75% of the money that he would otherwise have invested into candles. But not only that: The steady contribution of US$0.05 goes into a ZonLight fund which collects about $7,500 in six years assuming 70 subscribers.’ …please read more here
The Initiative’s long-term plan is to light up more and more African villages and beyond, with the help of individual, NGO’s and corporate sponsors – just $2,500 will supply a village with 50-70 Zonlights – for homes, schools, medical centres, police stations, mosques and churches.
There is so much more to this exciting Initiative to be found on the ComAfrique InteliZon website. So, please take a few minutes to check out what these guys are doing – and spread the word. We’ll definitely be shouting about it and we’re especially looking forward to using the products.
Thanks Ram, Miriam and the ComAfrique team for sponsoring us with what will be much needed light on our River Gambia Expedition – we’ll be lighting up our campsite soon enough, with the Zonlights, once the expedition begins next week in Guinea…photos to come soon!
The Florios (H & Flo)