On August 14th, after hard work and commitment, we switched on the lights in the village of Bokosso to the amazement and joy of its people. Finally after generations of waiting, they got access to electricity and cable TV. The installation of Internet is in works, in a couple of weeks, they can join the rest of the world in Googeling and talking to family and friends on Skype. Or being on Facebook. A brand new future awaits. A brighter future to come.
This has been a huge undertaking. We started four years ago and now we are there. It`s done. We have accomplished what no other have done before us, at least of what we are aware of and have been able to check. Deep in the tropical rainforest of Cameroon we have installed a solar power station, built a local power-grid, providing the people with electricity, cable TV and Internet. Coupled with entrepreneurship training and micro financing, the people will have access to the outside world and for the first time in their life having a real opportunity to escape poverty and eye a brighter future for themselves and their families. Not strange their celebration lasted all night. All lights on, singing and dancing on the streets. Jubilation. Celebration. A sleepless night. A privilege for SunErgy and the people of SunErgy to participate, celebrating the result of their hard labour. Awesome.
Responsible for the project was Dr. Stein Skjørshammer and Mr. Mike Fohba, Managing Director SunErgy Cameroon.
Some may ask “what about the cost? Maybe that will be a prohibiting factor?” Here is the calculation: people can have a brighter future, access to the outside world and the opportunity to escape poverty for less than the cost of one bottle of Cameroon beer per day. Even better: The people of Bokosso drink an average of 60 000 bottles of beer per year. If they would drink 45 000 bottles of beer (which should be more than enough) rather than 60 000, they have covered the cost. Paid the price. Or more bluntly, the prospect of a brighter future is hidden in 15 000 bottles! Cutting down alcohol with twenty-five percent. No real sacrifice considering the gain! For the people of Bokosso, the choice was rather easy when hearing the explanation and given the choice. We are confident, tens of millions of people will make the same choice if and when given the opportunity. And the best, it is commercially viable and sustainable. They pay themselves. This is not about handouts or freebies. A huge opportunity for Norwegian solar business, coupled with making money and doing good. Trade and not aid.
Conclusion: There is no reason (whatsoever) why not all people around the world, presently living in darkness, can`t share in “the Bokosso experience”. The desire and wish are there. We have (at least) requests from more than twenty-five countries around the world for similar projects: “When will you come to our country?” 1.5 billion of the world`s population live in darkness. Only in Sub-Sahara 800 million people. Now we can shift the focus from talking and discussing about the misery to providing opportunity and possibility! It has never been better, more realistic and possible. It is all there! Proven. Done. Working.
There are many other benefits connected to this, such as climate, preserving the rainforest, health, e-medicine, education, business and community development just to mention a few. The list is endless, imagination being the limitation. Here are only winners!
So what`s ahead? This week we started work on the next two villages. The plan calls for 6 villages to be “electrified” this year, with all 92 villages in the project to be finished by 2018, totalling 121 000 families or 600 000 people, plus schools, health centres, government offices and local businesses.
Below are a few pictures from “the switching on”.
With kind regards,
Stein Skjorshammer, PhD
Ole Hallvard Haugen
Chairman Board of Directors