We are thrilled to report that ‘Project Empower’ has been completed: our new solar battery system has been installed on the rooftop of our Uranga office! As of two weeks ago, our volunteers on the ground are able to power their laptops, mobile phones, and health literacy kits (microscopes and monitors) using our own solar panels and batteries. They no longer need to make the long trip back to their homes or nearest towns to recharge batteries, meaning that we now have opportunities for even greater reach. As we get used to using the system and understanding how much energy it generates, we expect to discover many more benefits in the coming months, such as drawing more people to the site (enabling it to become a local hub for health literacy), and sharing the “power” with the wider community – by allowing them to charge their mobile phones, and potentially small battery kits (which can be used to power lights, radios, and small electrical appliances in their homes).
This project was initiated in November 2020 when we partnered with a team at IBM Research Australia to explore opportunities for energy generation at our remote site. IBM ANZ was offering funding for projects connected to causes that IBM employees were involved in.
One of our long-term supporters and IBM researcher Julian de Hoog jumped on the opportunity, and together with Jess, Alice, and a broader team at IBM, developed and submitted a successful proposal. We are deeply grateful to Julian and IBM ANZ for providing the support and initial funding that got this project underway!
In Australia, we are used to hearing about solar and battery systems, and more than one in five Australian homes now have solar panels. However, in Kenya, despite having one of Africa’s stronger solar PV markets, challenges in the sourcing and installation of such systems remain. For example, while Australians typically opt for modern Li-ion batteries, in Kenya the battery technology of choice remains conventional lead acid, and Li-ion batteries would have been beyond our project budget. Even so, when we came to learn about the cost of components in Kenya, we realised that for us to have a system that would last for many years to come,
we would need additional funding.
Our Positive Aid supporter base stepped up to the task! Via several fundraisers we were able to secure the necessary shortfall that we needed. We are so grateful to all of you that contributed so generously! The impact of this system will be felt throughout the community for many years to come, and all your donations will improve countless lives, and extend our reach far beyond what we have been able to do until now. Thank you!
We will continue to post updates and photos as our local team learns to use the new system.