Robin unloading d.lights

Last night SolarAid was thrilled to receive the 2013 Ashden International Gold Award for its work getting solar lights to students in rural Africa.

CEO, Steve Andrews, accepted the award but dedicated it to the local African teams who,“spend months away from their wives, children and husbands, out in the field miles and miles away from home selling lights for us every day. They do a truly extraordinary job.”

The Ashden Awards ‘bring to light ground-breaking green energy champions in the UK and developing world and inspire others to follow’.

Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashden Founder said: “SolarAid has taken a huge step forward in eradicating the kerosene lamp from Africa by deliberately targeting the hardest places to reach with solar lighting – the very places where people are most in need. By working with schools to get study lanterns to families it is helping give a whole generation of African schoolchildren the chance of a better future.”

It is this creative distribution technique of working with schools’ networks that has truly broken new ground across East Africa. The award comes in the same month that sales of lights passed 500,000, with over a million children now able to study at night without inhaling toxic kerosene.

Other winners in the international awards category, Cookswell Jikos and Azuri Technologies also combat the use of dangerous and expensive traditional fuels, while WWF-Congo was recognised for its work to reduce the use of firewood in cooking, protecting both the environment and the habitat of the mountain gorilla.

It is clear that the importance of better and more efficient fuel for lighting is vital for both sustainable development and protection of the environment and we are delighted to be working alongside other organisations towards our goal of eradicating the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020.

We now look forward to the close support that Ashden gives all award winners – their expertise will provide added momentum in our mission to make clean light affordable and available across the continent.

As Pippa Palmer, SolarAid MD, explained: “We believe the 598million off-grid African people have a right to choose clean, safe light for their families and are calling on everyone to help us give them that choice.”