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SolarAid on the BBC; “chasing the shadows away”

It’s been a monumental few weeks here at SolarAid; not only have we been showcasing our work at the world’s largest sustainable environment conference, ecobuild, but have also received an unprecedented level of press coverage as word of our work continues to spread.

We were heavily featured in the BBC’s Electrifying Africa; Beyond the Grid series with our social enterprise SunnyMoney featured on Radio 4’s Costing the Earth series. The man behind the series, Tom Heap, travelled to Kenya to discuss how the near 12 hours of blanket darkness affects people living in rural Africa and as a consequence, how vital these small solar lamps are to families and communities.

Along the way Tom discovers the dangers and pitfalls of kerosene lamps; how they cause itchy eyes, blurred vision, respiratory problems and a huge dent in a family’s finances. He discovers how one big idea and one little lamp can improve the health of millions, providing a route out of poverty for those who currently spend up to 25% of income on fuel for lighting.

He interviews Steve Andrews, SolarAid and SunnyMoney CEO, who discusses the brutal nature of the kerosene lamp and explains how we are implementing our project – building a sustainable market for solar energy and ensuring communities and entrepreneurs have a vested interest in safeguarding the future of solar energy in Africa.

It really is a great listen with compelling and heart-warming stories. Our phones have been buzzing since the programme aired, with the rest of the world seemingly waking up to what people living in rural Africa have been lighting their homes with for years.

Click here to listen again to BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme

BBC Newsnight

SolarAid and SunnyMoney also featured on Newsnight in February 2013.

As part of the same series Tom Heap produced an item for BBC’s Newsnight which again focussed heavily on SunnyMoney and the growing shift away from the Kerosene lamp towards solar energy in East Africa.  In the five minute televised slot, Tom speaks to SunnyMoney Project Manager Victor Koyier and Project Officer Hudson Mungafu about dramatic improvements in solar technology and the impressive sales figures SunnyMoney are achieving week on week in so many rural villages.

Tom then meets up with Stanley Rugut, headmaster of a Kenyan Primary School. Stanley gives an honest and frank testimony to the advantages of these little solar devices which he is personally recommending to all of his pupils and their families.

“Because of the light we have double the number going to good schools,” he says. “At 700 Kenyan shillings (£5) a light is the same price as a hen.”

To see firsthand the dramatic improvements to quality of life these solar machines provide, watch the Newsnight item by clicking the video clip above.