Africa Lights the Way

In the dark and cold season, with the snow blowing and a wind that cuts like a knife, here’s some warm and shiny news from Kenya…

KIPTUSURI, Kenya — For Sara Ruto, the desperate yearning for electricity began last year with the purchase of her first cellphone, a lifeline for receiving small money transfers, contacting relatives in the city or checking chicken prices at the nearest market.

Charging the phone was no simple matter in this farming village far from Kenya’s electric grid.

Every week, Ms. Ruto walked two miles to hire a motorcycle taxi for the three-hour ride to Mogotio, the nearest town with electricity. There, she dropped off her cellphone at a store that recharges phones for 30 cents. Yet the service was in such demand that she had to leave it behind for three full days before returning.

That wearying routine ended in February when the family sold some animals to buy a small Chinese-made solar power system for about $80. Now balanced precariously atop their tin roof, a lone solar panel provides enough electricity to charge the phone and run four bright overhead lights with switches.

The future is small, smart and decentralized. Will we win the energy race, or will we be buying Chinese solar panels because we did not invest in manufacturing our own? I have faith, and I believe that the prize for this race will be one giant step for mankind.

Read the rest of the story here.

Also, read between the lines. Sara Ruto’s energy use is modest and focused on what is essential for her family. Conservation and non-wastefulness are part of the mix. I’m going to switch off a couple of lights now. If enough people do that it makes a difference.

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3 thoughts on “Africa Lights the Way

  1. Nancy-just keep in mind while you wax euphoric over the notion of localized renewable energy that making the equipment to capture this energy can contribute to pollution ina serious way.
    Take windfarms(actually it’s too bad we can’t harness the hot air in the General Assembly)-the generators are in the ocean,which means they have to be rust resistant.Seawater is mighty corrosive.That means plating.Plating uses some really bad chemicals.You don’t get to just flush them down the toilet.Just one example.

  2. That’s true. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. When there are six billion of us there is no course of action without environmental impact.
    But the concentration of money and political influence in centralized energy has crushed innovation in decentralized energy.
    I don’t think we all want to eat Spam all the time, but that’s what’s on the store shelves.
    I have a lot of hope for what the next decade will bring in opportunity. We have to have the courage to reach for it.
    Imagine what Fox News would have done to the Space Race. They’d have us looking for Noah’s Ark instead.

    • You can’t leave it alone with Fox News,can you?
      You studiously ignore what passes for honest reporting in the MSM.
      I think you have a tendency to conflate Fox News with their opinion programs.
      Back and O’Reilly don’t report news.They comment on things.
      Fox NEWS(i.e.Shepherd Smith)is quite different.
      I actually often prefer watching Morning Joe on MSNBC to Fox and Friends because the latter is insipid and the former has some real back and forth.
      Other than Chris Hanson’s exposes on pedophiles and scam operations,there is nothing else on MSNBC that I’d watch.
      In general,television has expanded in “bandwith” while regressing in quality over the decades.
      I recall when “looking something up”actually involved some effort.A trip to the library at least.Nowadays we have the Internet,and while it’s a GREAT resource when used with some judgement,it’s also a repository of endless amounts of garbage.
      In any event,I dread the idea of the Internet being “policed” except where evidence of a crime utilizing it exists.

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