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Solar Collectors Could Light Up Rural Liberia

  • Joana Mantey

A displaced girl sits in a Monrovia hotel without electricity or water preparing lunch for her family on Tuesday, Sept 2, 2003.

A displaced girl sits in a Monrovia hotel without electricity or water preparing lunch for her family on Tuesday, Sept 2, 2003.

A project to light up rural Liberia with solar lamps is expected to benefit more than 200,000 people in four years time.

Originator of the project, Richard Berky of the Liberia Energy Network (LEN), was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia in the 60’s. He said he returned to Liberia in 2009 and saw a war-ravaged country without any lighting system.

“What we are doing is introducing solar lighting in Liberia, especially in rural areas. It starts at $10 U.S., and that provides basic light and also basic charging facility for cell phones. We spent three years listening to Liberians, hearing what they want and not what we think they want.”

LEN is now constructing a modern electricity grid in remote parts of Liberia with the view to adding value to people’s lives. Berky said the lighting kits are affordable to the greater majority of consumers.

“The price of our basic light is less than what people pay for cell phones. Cell phone is something that requires additional investment. People have to buy scratch cards and charge their phones. The light, in fact can charge cell phones so it’s a real value”. He said

“We are not designed to make profit. We are called social enterprise and we look more at social benefits. Now we use a business model so we can pay our bills and make things happen quickly but no one makes profit,” He added.

So far, LEN has distributed 1,500 lights throughout the country.

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