So many incredible stories pass through the doors of our SunnyMoney office in Lusaka, Zambia every month. Last week, we had a visit from Senator Kayungwa, an inspirational solar light enthusiast and entrepreneur lighting up rural Zambia one solar light at a time.
Like many people living in rural Zambia, Senator Kuyungwa is no stranger to the dangers that come with not having access to light. What began as a journey to find a safe and affordable light source for his family turned into a passion to light up his community with clean, safe light.
According to the United Nation’s (U.N’s) “Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report, 2021”, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 75% of the world’s population without access to electricity, translating to over 570 million people. Among these, most have no access to safe light sources when night falls and many resort to using dangerous sources of light including kerosene and candles, often resulting in fire accidents.
This situation is a big concern to Senator Kayungwa. Senator lives in Zambia’s Luano Valley, a remote area about 445 km away from the Capital, Lusaka. His home in Luano Valley is unelectrified, like most in his village. Knowing the problems this causes, he became a solar light Agent for SolarAid’s social enterprise SunnyMoney, encouraging others within and outside his village to use solar lights.
“Because the most common sources of light in my village are kerosene and candles, fire accidents are common and this can be reduced with the use of solar lights which are very safe.
After getting a solar light from SunnyMoney through an Agent, I noticed that my expenses towards kerosene, candles and batteries for light, significantly reduced. This also meant preventing fire accidents caused by kerosene and candles and hence, I encouraged neighbours in my village to switch to a safe light source – solar light.”
Senator, a farmer, husband and father to five children, decided to become a SunnyMoney Agent after noticing that his neighbours and friends were interested in his solar light.
“I bought my first solar light in 2012 from a SunnyMoney Agent and only decided to become one in 2014, after my neighbours and friends started requesting for more solar lights upon seeing how my household wasn’t constantly spending on kerosene, candles and batteries for night light. And the fact that there was no one to consistently supply” he said.
For Senator, the solar lights have not only cut down household expenses on kerosene, candles and batteries, but also improved his children’s academic performance.
“I have even managed to buy a solar light for each of my four children currently going to school and I have seen great improvement in their academic performance because they now have ample time to study even at night, something they could not do previously.
Before I got the solar lights, my children could only depend on day-light to study and once the sun went down, it meant ‘tools down’ for them, but not anymore!”
Senator focuses on supplying solar lights to farmers like himself both in his village in Luano Valley and other rural districts like Mumbwa and Munkonchi area in Kapiri Mposhi district.
Because of his consistency and guaranteed returns, Senator has gained trust from SunnyMoney staff over the years.
“As an agent who lives in a place where network coverage fails most times, one would expect that the office would lose their trust because I am sometimes unreachable through phone calls but SunnyMoney understands and hence, I have built trust through my guaranteed returns, no matter how long it takes for my lights to sell. Thus, I still remain an Agent till today,” he said.
Taking solar to the furthest reaches of the country is no easy task. The distances are long, the roads can be difficult and the weather brings its own challenges. For Senator, his passion to bring clean, safe light to communities across Zambia leads him to hope for better transportation so he can reach a larger market.
Senator remains optimistic about a future where his entire village is illuminated by solar lights reducing the risk of accidents, pollution and health problems from toxic smoke while allowing families to save money.
He implores people, especially those staying in rural areas like his own, to “go for sustainable energy and light sources like solar” adding that “cheap is expensive and expensive is cheap, better go for solar lights and save money from kerosene, candles and batteries” .