Bono being briefed about SharedSolar
Bono and Rosso Renzo visit a Malian household in Segou.
The director of the MVP project, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs visited the MVP Segou site on the 11th and 12th of January 2012, to launch the second phase of the MVP project in Mali including a briefing of the SharedSolar systems. Mali’s Prime Minister Mrs. Mariam Cissé Kaïdama Sidibé, kindly accepted the invitation of the MVP project to set the first stone of a modern highschool that will serve the municipalities of Dioro and Farakoumassa. In addition to classrooms, the school will have a boarding residence, dining hall, sports field, a management facility, housing for teachers and will be powered by renewable energy. This project has been made possible by the generous donation of Mr Renzo Rosso, CEO of the fashion house Diesel. Professor Sachs was accompained by his wife Sonia and the famous singer of U2, Bono.
The Millennium Village Project (MVP) was launched in 2005 in order to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in the poorest regions of rural Africa. A dozen clusters of villages in 10 African countries have adopted bold and novel strategies to overcome poverty, hunger, and disease. Now halfway through the ten-year project, the results are very exciting: agriculture production is up significantly, free basic health care is in place, malaria is coming under control, many more children are in school, and farmers are organizing cooperatives to diversify their crops and increase incomes.
The core idea of the project is that poor rural communities can take on several initiatives simultaneously in a strategy that is sometimes called “integrated development.” In the case of the Millennium Villages, five areas of community life are prioritized: agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, and business development.
After the ceremony, the PM visited the community health center of Dioro. The delegation then took the opportunity to discuss with a women’s group in charge of parboiled rice production and with the SharedSolar team in charge of rural electrification in the area.
SharedSolar is an electrification approach developed at Columbia University that utilizes a network of micro-grids, each controlled with a unique prepaid metering system that leverages existing mobile telephony systems. Through remote management, automated electricity dispatching and proximity to clients, the cost to provide energy services is drastically reduced when compared to traditional methods. Smart meters and proprietary software allow operators to measure low consumption loads typical of poor rural areas, whilst renewable energy produced by modular systems provides flexibility and even a path towards eventual grid connectivity. With a pay-as-you-go business model, SharedSolar enables customers to make frequent and small payments that fits their energy needs. Users buy scratch cards to recharge accounts via their mobile phone or approach a local vendor equipped with a wireless terminal.
In Mali nine SharedSolar systems already benefit over 2,400 people in 172 households. During the first half of 2012, a collaboration between Mali’s Rural Electrification and Household Energy Agency (AMADER) and Millennium Promise Alliance will install an additional 11 kW of photovoltaic equipment for 160 new households. SharedSolar in Segou is leading the way for similar future extensions to other parts of the country. Elsewhere, SharedSolar is developing programs in Uganda, Kenya and Haiti.
In a dinner offered by the Government of the Region of Segou and the Ministry of the Integrated Development of the Zone Office du Niger, Prof. Sachs stressed the commitment of the MVP project to continue support innovative actions that improve access to health, education and energy.
Dr Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease, and hunger by the year 2015. Sachs is also President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty.