Solar lights spell the end of kerosene for over a million Kenyans

A scheme bringing solar lights to more than a million people living in remote communities in East Africa will allow them to discontinue use of unhealthy, polluting kerosene lamps.

A partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and environmental company ClimateCare aims to enable 1.2 million people living in off-grid communities in Kenya to purchase solar lights.

Solar lights provide a clean and safe alternative to kerosene, which causes ill-health and premature deaths. It will also help children study in the evenings, free up time for women, improve home conditions and boost incomes, the companies said.

The Lighting Up Lives programme also contributes to efforts to roll out clean technology and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Repayments are set at the same level as people would have spent buying kerosene each month and, once paid for, the technology can save families money they previously spent on fuel.

The set includes a solar panel and three lights, one of which doubles up as a mobile phone charger, so owners can charge their phones or even run a small business providing that service for other people.

The programme funds salespeople to go into communities to sell the technology and set up the finance schemes, and to provide aftercare services.

One of those who has already benefited is Faith Mutiti, a farmer, who said: “It is amazing always having light.

“Before, I spent a lot of time and money going to get kerosene and getting my phone charged - now I have extra time to sell my vegetables and work on the farm.

“With the money I save I can get [my son] Dennis and his siblings more food and better clothes.”

Dennis said: “I am so happy now I can do my homework. My dream is to be a pilot and now I am doing well at school I think I will be.”

ClimateCare chief executive Edward Hanrahan said the scheme helped deliver on UN Global Goals, which include cutting poverty, improving health and well-being, ensuring clean and affordable energy, climate action and quality education worldwide.

He said: “We believe businesses have a vital role to play in supporting the global goals and Jaguar Land Rover is an excellent example of the contribution corporates can make.”

Helen McLintock, director of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “This exciting new venture is exactly the type of programme that Jaguar Land Rover wants to lead on in the future, using technology for good and supporting the power of engineering to improve lives and help to build a cleaner future.”

She added: “By sharing our skills, our technology, our people and our passions, we can make a difference to people’s lives and prosperity.”

Jaguar Land Rover said the programme fitted with its own operations and commitment to a zero-emissions future, with moves to 100 per cent renewable electricity for UK facilities, the installation of the UK’s largest solar rooftop array at its Engine Manufacturing Centre in the West Midlands, and development of electric vehicles.

To promote the project Jaguar Land Rover has commissioned an art installation called ‘Night Time Sun’ (pictured) which was recently exhibited at the Hay Festival in Wales.

Earlier this year, Kenyan engineers demonstrated an automated app-controlled system for irrigating fields in a bid to help farmers improve their harvest in times of drought.

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