Electrify Kagarko: A REES Lights Project

REES Africa
4 min readApr 5, 2020

By Oladimeji Ayodeji and Toluwani Fadamitan

Access to electricity is a basic amenity, which every household must possess. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most households in rural communities. Energy access across the continent remains low, and the situation is even more unfavorable for communities located way off a power grid. Oboi, Madaki and Sarki communities of Kagarko L.G.A, Kaduna state, as the case in point here.

Following the initiative previously applied in the partial electrification of Lagelu community and Sabokodji Island in 2018 and 2019, respectively, REES Africa took things a step further with the Kagarko communities. Leaving behind the solar home systems used in the previous communities, and opting for solar micro-grids, which are more sustainable, more inclusive and generally more beneficial for the communities involved.

As an environmental organization, REES Africa’s goals for Electrify Kagarko project were simple, and tuned to primarily suit the tenets of SDGs 7, 11 and 13, thus –

· Affordable and clean energy

· Sustainable cities and communities

· Climate action

Appropriate steps were followed to achieve the goals to the letter, as well as make impacts based on every other SDG.

The Project Communities and Energy Poverty: A Brief Overview

Oboi, Madaki and Sarki are constituent communities of Kagarko Local Government Area, in Kaduna state, Nigeria. These communities are predominantly populated by ginger farmers, which for as far as history could tell, have remained the dominant source of income and economic activities for the indigents. Statewide, about 70% of ginger cultivated and harvested in Kaduna state are from Kagarko communities. Surprisingly, despite their economic significance in the agricultural facet of the state, basic necessities such as clean water and electricity are foreign to the project communities.

The lack of electricity in the communities for over a century is a criterion which drew the concern of REES Lights Africa to the communities. Subsequently, upon further assessments, the organization concluded on the provision of solar micro grids to serve and better improve the socioeconomic lifestyle of the communities. Some multiplier effects of energy poverty in these rural areas necessitated the need for electricity.

Due to lack of electricity, lifestyle and livelihood is stunted, limiting the rate of relevant development in the communities. Increase in environmental pollution and carbon footprints were gradually becoming a norm. As those who can afford it make use of generators powered by fossil fuels at any given time as a source of electricity or light at night, thus altering and polluting the air for the communities. Also, the state of health is impeded, as well as the ability of children to read at night; their cognitive development is also affected as a result of the air pollution from archaic sources of lighting.

Electrify Kagarko: The project

Five days were spent in accomplishing the project. Three days and nights were spent carrying out the installations, shooting documentaries, dispensing questionnaires, holding stakeholders meetings and sensitizing/educating the indigents. The other two days accounted for time spent on the road accessing and leaving the communities after project. Smooth running of the projects in due time was made possible by the reconnaissance surveys and preliminary assessments carried out at different points before the due date of the project.

A total of 5kw community modelled solar microgrid installation was deployed into the communities, targeting as follows;

· Oboi- 35 households.

· Madaki- 40 households.

· Sarki- 16 households and a mosque.

The solar micro grid components alongside relief materials from JCI
Installation of solar panels in Oboi Community.

Alongside the electric supply to the households, two solar streetlights were also deployed per community. A micro grid designed by a project partner, WattCore Energy, was installed in each community. The solar micro grids deployed were designed and fabricated to meet the rural needs and ensure the flexibility of the system according to budget and availability of space. These micro grid installations were designed in form of a compact electronic box that encompasses three main components — batteries, charge controller, and an inverter. Each micro grid was aimed at electrifying the intended community, as well as control the efficient distribution of electricity to the households in a sustainable manner, ensuring its durability and minimal maintenance needs.

Conclusion

Though REES Africa was the principal player in the implementation of the project, the success of the project was facilitated by;

· Financial donations from Eleven Eleven Twelve Foundation (EETF), the founder, DoGood Africa, crowd funding, KAPSCO, and other individual donations.

· Input from the project partners — Steam, SocialGoodLagos, Nigerian Tribune, Smart Teller, WattCore Energy ltd, and Kagarko LGA.

· Selfless input of REES volunteers

Following post-project assessment, a significant boost have been identified in the overall livelihood of the indigents of these communities. And this is a source of incredible satisfaction to the REES Africa. Amongst numerous improvements recorded, some of them include –

· Increased employability of indigent youths in the solar and allied industries

· Reduced carbon footprint on an average of 20,099.6 kg Carbon.

· Reduction in the report of snake bites in the communities

· Improved security as a result of proper lighting

· A better understanding of energy efficiency among the indigents

· Reduced workload for the women, as search for archaic source of lighting is reduced, etc.

REES Africa continues to look out for opportunities to better the lives of everyone, and make sustainable living a norm in Africa. We aim to bring love and light to every corner of Africa, one step at a time.

You should, too. :)

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