The Canon Segametsi SOLAR Light Project 2014 has seen over 200 BettaLight solar lighting units installed in underprivileged homes in the communities of Khatorus and New Jerusalem in the past two months. A further 50 homes in New Jerusalem will also soon benefit from the free, unlimited and clean power of the sun, to light up their lives.
According to Canon SA’s Environmental Manager, Iza Daly, demand for the sun-powered lighting units continues to grow, with a further 200 units for Khatorus and 300 units for New Jerusalem already on the “wish list” for 2015.
“We are pleased with the progress of the CANON Segametsi SOLAR Light Project 2014. Already over 200 homes have benefitted with a further 50 to receive their units this year. These homes should have access to free, solar-powered lighting by December 2014. We are extending the project into 2015 to help light-up more homes in needy communities,” says Daly.
The solar lighting project is a joint initiative between Canon SA and the non-profit organization, Segametsi Hope SA. To date, Canon has sponsored R250 000 worth of solar lighting units to the project, which forms part of the Lighting Rural Africa Project that hopes to install solar lighting solutions into three million households in Africa. This will be achieved through a phased approach.
The project benefits people in areas such as squatter camps, rural areas, as well as areas with electricity access but where many households are unable to afford it. Beneficiaries are identified based on need and are required to pay a rental of R70 per month for the BettaLight solar lighting system.
This is cheaper than the estimated R100 to R300 per month average homes in these communities are paying for fuels such as paraffin (kerosene), candle lights and wood-burning fires, which are all a potential safety hazard.
In addition to this saving, beneficiaries can also save on the R20 to R40 they are paying to charge their mobile phones at local spaza shops because they will be able to charge them at home. They may even recoup some of their monthly BettaLight rental cost by charging neighbours to charge their mobile phones.
As part of the project, co-operatives are being set-up in the beneficiary communities and local people are being trained to install and maintain the solar lighting solutions. These co-operatives will be able to apply to the Department of Trade and Industry for additional grant funding to purchase more units.
Daly says that in addition to the CANON Segametsi SOLAR Light Project 2014, Canon Business Solutions has also committed to installing 10 solar lighting systems in needy homes for every Canon Image Press machine sold in 2014. Between January and September, 15 Canon Image Press machines have been sold. These 150 solar lighting units have already been installed within the Villa Lisa and New Comet communities of Khatorus.
“Some 50 solar lighting units – which exceeds Canon’s initial commitment - have been installed in homes in Khatorus and New Jerusalem. More will be rolled-out in the coming months. It is extremely heartening to light-up peoples’ lives in this way. “Many underprivileged households do not have access to electricity for lighting, and if they do, they can’t afford it.
“With sun-powered lighting, these homes have a source of reliable light that is far safer and more cost-effective than candles and paraffin lamps. Families are able to conduct nightly chores, and children are able to study and read with adequate lighting,” concludes van Daly.