Bringing Solar Lighting to Africa

Images from the “Bringing light to Africa” YouTube video. Top row: Girls studying under solar lights, the solar light kit, an infant being cared under solar lights. Bottom row: Pastor Akognon, boys studying together under a solar light lamp.

By Godfrey Lee Many homes in rural Africa will be lit by solar energy, thanks to Dr. Emmanuel O. Akognon, Pastor of Village Baptist Church in Marin City, who is working to light up the homes of 1,000 families in villages in Nigeria and the Republic of Benin. Akognon believes the introduction of solar lighting will help transform the lives of families who will not have to face the dangers of fire and unhealthy fumes associated with lighting homes with candles or kerosene, which can also be expensive. Rural villages and homes are often on their own when it comes to accessing sources of energy. The government does not always supply rural areas with energy, and political and system-wide problems can prevent commercial energy companies from serving the villages. While being easier to produce, solar energy is also cleaner and safer than energy from coal, gas, or nuclear power. Because blackouts are common in many larger African cities, a localized source of electricity may be more reliable. “You don’t need somebody with a degree to operate a solar panel. Just put the panel on the house, connect the converter, battery, and bulb and you are on,” he said. “It is a lot easier to do. It may cost a little bit more for a family with heavy-duty usage,” said Pastor Akognon. “But the rural African home does not have a refrigerator, washer, or dryer that consume a lot of electricity. So buying the solar equipment is easier, cheaper and not as complicated,” he said. The goal of Pastor Akognon’s organization, Better Africa Foundation, is to find 1,000 sponsors who will donate  $100, which will provide each family with solar lighting for five years. So far, the group has found sponsors for about 100 families. Pastor Akognon is asking for the public to help. An individual may sponsor one or more families, or friends or a group may sponsor a family together. Donations will also be accepted. To find out more about the project, watch the YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=57B5C-G8WbQ, or visit the websites: www.betterafrica.org, www.greenandsolarafrica.com, or www.villagebaptisthome.org. For information call (707) 762-6125 or contact Pastor Akognon at info@betterafrica.org. Donations can be sent to: Better Africa Foundation, 1011 Allen St., Petaluma, CA 94954-1837.
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