Ms Michelo, Head Teacher of a Primary School in Rufansa, Zambia

Dear SolarAid Stars and Supporters,

As January comes to a close and you shake off the January blues, I wanted to write and thank all of you who have supported our work over the years.

Back in the spring of 2006, driven by a passion to fight poverty and climate change, we began our work to make clean, renewable, energy accessible to everyone. Since then, we have reached over 10.5 million people and played a leading role in kick starting sustainable solar markets in many sub-Saharan African countries. We have also electrified hundreds of rural schools and clinics in much need of access to power, so that they can better serve their communities.

We could not have done this without you.

Our work is not over

Notwithstanding all that has been achieved, as the climate clock continues to tick and with some 600 million people across Africa projected to be still without electricity in 2030, our fight against both climate change and poverty is more urgent than ever before.

Access to modern, renewable energy is critical to fighting poverty, climate change, and improving health, the quality of healthcare, education and economies. In line with the timeframe set by the Sustainable Development Goals, a key goal of ours at SolarAid is to ensure that, by 2030, no one is left in the dark. This means that no home is forced to burn candles or kerosene or rely on sub-standard, battery powered, torches as a main source of light. It means that no child is unable to do their homework due to lack of light. It means that no child is born into a world of darkness in a clinic without power.

It also means that we need to look beyond market development alone as a mechanism to ensure universal access – especially if we are to reach the poorest, hardest to reach households and communities.

Starting the year bright

With the first consignments of the new, improved, SM100 solar light now on their way to Malawi and Zambia, 2019 promises to be an exciting year as more and more homes gain access to this ground breaking product. We are also excited to be developing new programmes to enable access to light for those who still can not afford them. This work will include:

Light Libraries

Ms. Michelo’s Primary School in rural Rufansa, Zambia is the first in the country to receive a Light Library

Recognising that not every family can afford to invest in a solar light that costs USD 5, we have kickstarted 2019 with a new solar Light Library in Zambia. Much like checking a book out from a traditional library, students and their families will be able to borrow a solar light from their school for as little as a penny a day. This means that even the poorest families can light their homes at night. You can read more about this work here.

Lighting Up Clinics

Sister Valeria, from St. Luke’s Hospital, with solar powered fridge used to store vaccines given by SolarAid 8 years ago

By providing rural health posts and clinics with access to reliable lighting and power, the quality of healthcare will improve. Access to basic healthcare is so critical in rural communities and SolarAid is committed to working with health partners to help ensure that no child is born into a world of darkness.

Project Switch

One of the 200 houses in Mandevu, Malawi part of the first phase of Project Switch, launching this year in April

Providing communities with a solar charging station to charge solar powered batteries used to power their homes will enable every household to have access to solar lights.

Partnerships

We can not change the world alone. That’s why 2019 will see us continue working with others, actively sharing our models and experience to help maximise the people we reach. You can read about our partnership in Senegal where ElleSolaire is training up a network of female entrepreneurs to bring access to solar power within their communities, and also how we inspired Oxfam to replicate our work through schools in order to increase access to lighting for students in Sierra Leone.

So the New Year for us very much represents a new beginning as we kickstart new ventures and introduce new products.

It’s also a time for new years resolutions. While we will continue to lead by example at SolarAid, having a direct impact on lives, my resolution… my challenge, is to ensure that our message is heard loud and clear.

2019 has to be the year of a step change in climate action and a step change in increasing access to clean, renewable energy for the world’s poorest. That’s why I will be talking to partners, supporters, governments to make sure this message is heard.

If we are to ensure that no one is left in the dark by 2030, we cannot do it alone.

All my best,

John

CEO, SolarAid