Category: Stories

Stories are what make the world and inspire the imagination. We have collected, and continue to add, stories about energy access and rural development around the world, as well as the latest updates and thoughts from our own projects and activities.

The InnovateUK Energy Catalyst and working with SVRG partners

Recently, we were invited to give a presentation by our colleagues at the UK Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (UK LCEDN), as part of a webinar they were running on “Transforming Energy Access” for organisations who were interested in applying for the latest Innovate UK Energy Catalyst (round 8) competition, closing in September 2020. …

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What we mean by Community Engagement – the SVRG way of working.

Recently our project partners in Lesotho, the Energy Research Centre at the National University of Lesotho, asked us to contribute to a week-long Masters’ students event on rural energy access. Because of COVID, we were sadly unable to make it in person, but delivered the presentations via Webex instead. Here is the contribution from Dr …

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The SVRG approach – what are we all about?

Recently our project partners in Lesotho, the Energy Research Centre at the National University of Lesotho, asked us to contribute to a week-long Masters’ students event on rural energy access. Because of COVID, we were sadly unable to make it in person, but delivered the presentations via Webex instead. Here is the contribution from Dr …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/the-svrg-approach-what-are-we-all-about/

Innovation Africa-style

One thing that the Smart Villages model is based on is the notion of “appropriate technology” – that is the use of technologies that are specified and optimised based on their context and utility, rather than their absolute efficiency or performance. The classic example is the use of, say, an off-the-shelf lead acid battery instead …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/innovation-africa-style/

Unbalanced 3-phase power nearly killed the radio

So let’s start by stepping back a little. Our innovative partners, OMASI, have set up a number of different productive, social and community projects on their main site in the village of Terat in the Simanjiro District of Tanzania. There’s a shop, a community meeting hall, and a hostel (originally set up as somewhere for …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/unbalanced-3-phase-power-nearly-killed-the-radio/

Meetings with Remarkable Trees…

We were delighted to find that one of the many amazing things about working in the Maasai Plains of Simanjiro District, south of Arusha, is the indigenous baobab trees. The baobab, Adansonia digitata, is native to Africa, and classes as one of the biggest trees in the world. Whilst they “only” reach 25-30m in height, …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/welcome-to-big-tree-country/

Solar Boma Systems should be a thing

For the Maasai, the traditional living unit is the boma. This is an extended, or multi-family compound surrounded by a thorn hedge (usually), which will contain between 3 and 10 houses. There is an inner circular compound, also surrounded by a thorn hedge, to keep the livestock safe during the night. Satellite photos of the …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/solar-boma-systems-should-be-a-thing/

Vidya Sagar Devabhaktuni, SKG Sangha – biogas entrepreneur

[:en] Vidya Sagar Devabhaktuni, President, SKG Sangha Location: Bangalore, India “Human beings are divided, but their basic problems are all the same”   Having provided biogas solutions to over 10,000 villages since the mid-80s, Vidya Sagar Devabhaktuni has explored remote areas all over the world. For the president of SKG Sangha, exploring local cultures and …

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Saddek Fenardji, Canopy – solar entrepreneur

[:en] Saddek Fenardji, General Secretary, Canopy Location: Paris, France “The biggest challenge is getting paid” Saddek Fenardji remembers a local mayor’s surprise at how off-grid energy shaped Akonolinga, a town 70 kilometres away from the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé. “We built 250 street lights in a city of 20,000 inhabitants, which was otherwise totally in the …

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Kopernik Indonesia – solving last mile problems

[:en] Sergina Loncle, Communications Manager, Kopernik Location: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia “The supply chain in Indonesia is a real challenge” On one of Indonesia’s 18,000 islands, Adonara in East Nusa Tenggara, crops such as copra – dried coconut flesh – are sold raw and unprocessed. Copra is usually left strewn on the ground, to dry in …

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Nico Tyabji, SunFunder – solar entrepreneur

[:en] Nico Tyabji, Director of Strategic Partnerships, SunFunder Location: US, East Africa “As a financial intermediary for the off-grid solar sector, we’ve grown alongside companies”   Since it launched as a specialist debt financier for the off-grid solar sector in 2012, SunFunder has improved energy access for 2.9 million people. Co-founders Ryan Levinson and Audrey Desiderato …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/interview-nico-tyabji-sunfunder/

Suleiman Mzungu, SUJA – biomass entrepreneur

[:en] Suleiman Mzungu, Co-founder, SUJA Location: Tanzania “Changing the practice of cooking with charcoal is complex”   As part of the plan to make charcoal from more sustainable sources, Suleiman Mzungu and Jacqueline Proneth are passing by the sugar cane sellers of Dar-es-Salaam, collecting the empty husks thrown aside. Collecting sugar cane husks also solves …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/interview-suleiman-mzungu-suja/

Carlo Figa Talamanca, Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise

[:en] Carlo Figa Talamanca, Chief Executive, Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise Location: Phnomh Penh, Cambodia “We compete on industrialising the clean charcoal process”   The other day, there was a fistfight on the factory floor. More worryingly, an employee’s child did not turn up at school. This is directly the responsibility of Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise …

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David Achi, AD Solar Entreprise – minigrid entrepreneur

David Achi, Director, AD Solar Entreprise Location: Abidjan, Ivory Coast “Ivorians can now access life” Running a business in Ivory Coast is not easy, much less a solar company. David Achi trained over 1,000 technicians via a company he created in Reims – “the capital of champagne!” – in 2010. Achi also taught engineering at …

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Shyam Patra, Naturetech Infrastructure – solar entrepreneur

[:en]  Shyam Patra, Founder and Director at Naturetech Infrastructure “We are ensuring that electricity is available and all the basic services are available. We don’t provide the electricity and then wait for the rest to happen.”   The first time Shyam Patra visited India’s rural north, he was working for a traditional energy company and …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/interview-shyam-patra-naturetech-infrastructure/

Segun Adaju, Consistent Energy Limited – solar entrepreneur

[:en]  Segun Adaju, CEO at Consistent Energy Limited “I think Nigeria has the biggest market for this kind of business in all of Sub-Saharan Africa.”   To get a sense of Nigeria’s problems in the energy sector, it helps to know that more 60 million people in the country have their own gas-powered generators. In …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/interview-segun-adaju-consistent-energy-limited/

Mawuli Tse, Solar Light Africa – solar entrepreneur

[:en] Mawuli Tse, Director, Solar Light Africa Location: Accra, Ghana “Good technology migrates by itself” In the early nineties, Mawuli Tse spent time in Cape Verde, as part of a group working to install 5,000 photovoltaic systems in homes on the archipelago. “They were so progressive,” he says. “My thought was, if Cape Verde was …

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Richard Fahey, Liberian Energy Network (LEN) – solar entrepreneur

[:en] Richard Fahey, CEO, Liberian Energy Network (LEN) Location: Liberia “We give Liberians, be they fishermen or child soldiers, a powerful tool to do their job better” When a shipment of solar lights disappeared at the port of Hamburg en route from China, only to turn up three months later, every single battery dead. It …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/interview-richard-fahey-liberian-energy-network-len/

Jeroen Verschelling, Kamworks – solar home system entrepreneur

Photos courtesy of M. Young/Kamworks.

[:en] Jeroen Verschelling, Chairman and Co-founder,  Kamworks Location:  Phnom Penh, Cambodia “It’s hard to go faster than the market” Jeroen Verschelling first designed his zero-energy home when he was a consultant for Ecofys, taking notes in the back of a conference room with experts on how to build homes in the tropics. Verschelling spent three …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/interview-jeroen-verschelling-kamworks/

Emal Barekzai, Zularistan – solar entrepreneur

[:en] Emal Barekzai, CEO, Zularistan Location: Kabul, Afghanistan “We worked in areas which were 100% Taliban” Emal Barekhzai came to Jalalabad in 2002. He was living in Kassel, Germany, and he found a two-month role working as an IT technician at a girl’s school there. Only 3% of girls were going to school in the …

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Permanent link to this article: http://e4sv.org/interview-emal-barekzai-tecnosol/

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