Africa has an incredibly abundant rich and invaluable resource in the form of the world’s most consistent sunlight throughout the year. Each day 15,000 times more energy than we collectively use reaches earth in the form of sunlight. Sadly this resource is still not harnessed.
Solar technologies have steadily improved over the last 100 years and along with a range of other renewable clean energy technologies are waiting to take a long overdue opportunity to improve our current situation by harnessing the suns clean and natural energy.
An estimated two billion people or one third of the earth's population are forced to use unsustainable cooking fuels at a steadily growing cost to their health, living environment and global carbon foot print.
A technology eminently suitable to assist with this growing cooking fuel crisis faced (on a daily basis) by 240 million people in Southern Africa alone, is available.
Solar cooker technologies performance has developed to a comparable level with conventional cooking appliances with the exceptional advantages of including all fuel costs in the lifespan of the appliance and producing no pollution such as attached to conventional cooking appliances.
Solar cookers can cook any type of meal and just as importantly are able to provide users with access to clean drinking water wherever they are.
On average Sub–Saharan families spend 30% of their income on household energy at least 50% of this fuel is for cooking and water purification purposes. This situation has no foreseeable end unless forward thinking African leaders start to adopts and deploy this relatively unheard of technology in large numbers.
Solar cookers introduced with and complimented by fuel-efficient and smokeless stoves can provide users with cleaner and safer energy, allowing users to cook and heat space 24 hours a day - literally freeing millions of African families from a perpetual form of energy slavery.
This “package” can cut cooking fuel costs by a minimum of 50% and cook for 10 to 15 years with no additional fuel costs after the original investment, but the real costs to affected families cannot be measured in monetary value.
Solar Cookers Can:
- Reduce indoor air pollution (Indoor air pollution is identified as the 4th largest killer in developing countries and it is estimated to be responsible for over 1.6 million deaths a year worldwide (WHO). This issue mainly affects women and children who suffer chronic lung and eye disease as a result of cooking on paraffin, coal, dung or firewood inside their homes.)
- Reduce violence against women (In addition woman and children are exposed to potentially dangerous situations with wild animals and men in communities where rape is prevalent.)
- Help to decrease poverty and hunger
- Assist in combating HIV/Aids malaria and other diseases (Eradicate all water borne diseases by providing clean drinking water no matter where the users are located.)
- Provide an opportunity for more children to go to school (Perpetual fuel collection often means children need to be kept from school)
- Empower woman (By creating more time to improve other areas of their families lives such as nutrition, education or household improvements)
- Reduce child mortality:
- Solar cookers can ensure a clean drinking water supply by eradicating all water borne diseases, the leading cause of death to children under five.
- Improve maternal health (Indoor air pollution is linked to low birth weights
- Ensure environmental sustainability for our sun-rich continent
A successful project is vital in order to get governments throughout Africa to realise this low cost technology can make an immediate improvement to users lives. In May 2006, perseverance and teamwork between SunFire Solutions and the municipal management team in Pietermaritzburg culminated in South Africa’s first successful Solar cooker project. It is also the continents largest concentration of cookers to date – which only shows there is a lot more work to be done!)
Masihambisane is a small village situated in a Tribal Authority area 80 km north of Pietermaritzburg beyond the sugarcane plantations. This community was selected because of its remoteness and suitability for off-grid electrification.
In June 2006 SunFire Solutions and the Mgungundlovu District Municipality decided to install 20 SunFire14 parabolic dishes in Masihambisane as part of a pilot off-grid electrification project.
A marked and definite improvement in living standards was immediately noticeable. In December 2006 just two weeks before Christmas we returned to install another 60 SunFire14's, we visited Masihambisane again in January to gauge Africa’s first Zulu Solar Chefs reactions and were amazed at the response - despite a few households requiring more information on the correct use of their new dishes. The overall affects and response from this small community are unanimous and can be termed an unqualified success.
One woman cooked her families entire Christmas meal on her new SunFire14 and was very proud of not needing to light a fire on Christmas day as this meant not having to wash her families clothes of the smell of smoke.
We found the earliest users are predominantly made up of the younger generation (14 – 24) who are correspondingly responsible for fuelwood collection and immediately recognised the benefits of a free cooking energy appliance involving no extra cost, time or labour.
SunFire Solutions and the Pietermaritzburg District Municipality have agreed to expand this project to better meet the people of Masihambisane needs.
We are very pleased to inform you that the project is now set to include between 60 - 80 Solar Home Systems (SHS) along with another 120 SunFire14 Parabolic Solar Cookers.
Phase 3 represents the single largest off-grid electrification renewable energy project anywhere in the country.
The SHS we are installing will provide enough energy for four lights and a plug to charge cell phones, radios or similar appliances (even black-and-white TVs) Our goal is to promote this "solar package" concept and provide a successful working example that can be duplicated across South Africa. The next phase is set to start in early September.
The Masihambisane service delivery team feel that it’s now the correct time to inform the South African public about this amazing and positive project. Solar Cookers are an almost unknown technology in Africa and in order to raise the level of awareness to truly needed to start making a difference and set decision makers and civil societies imagination alight your assistance in highlighting this project would be greatly appreciated.
This project is a success story for all South Africans demonstrating a working example of how dedicated local municipality Government departments and members of the private sector can contribute towards uplifting the Continent poorest without compromising traditional values or lifestyles.
News and recent developmentsEdit
- June 2007: Crosby Menzies of SunFire Solutions sends a report on the Masihambisane Solar Cooker Project.
See Crosby Menzies.