Schneider Electric lights up lives in the Eastern Cape

Schneider Electric has provided lighting to 80 households within a powerless village in Mount Frere, Eastern Cape, one of the poorest regions in South Africa

October 18, 2012

Global specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric has provided lighting to 80 households within a powerless village in Mount Frere, Eastern Cape, one of the poorest regions in South Africa.

According to Jason Ullbricht, HR Vice President: Africa & Caribbean at Schneider Electric, the company’s intention was to find an area that was truly in need of such assistance. “1.3 billion people around the globe do not have access to electricity. Based on these figures, Schneider Electric launched its BipBop programme, aimed at bringing safe, clean energy to the people who need it most.”

The BipBop programme, which stands for Business, Innovation and People at the Base of the Pyramid, addresses three key issues to provide sustainable access to electricity, which includes a lack of appropriate equipment, an absence of financial resources and a skills and expertise shortage.
Says Ullbricht: “Through a local community forum and by working with one of the region’s tribal chiefs, we identified a village in the Mount Frere area that would greatly benefit from the installation of our In-Diya rechargeable LED lamps, as the village does not have electricity and, typically, residents must make use of candles and paraffin lamps for lighting purposes in the evenings.”

Schneider Electric has equipped each household with In-Diya LED lamps that are powered by a solar charged battery. The lamps have a 20-year lifespan and can light a 12 x 12 foot room for between eight and 15 hours.

Based on a decision made by the village’s residents, one household was also furnished with an In-Diya battery charging station, where a small fee is paid to recharge batteries. These funds are managed by the community forum to pay the resident who manages the re-charge station and will also be ploughed back into the community however the forum sees fit.

“The solution provided not only gives Mount Frere villagers the benefit of good quality lighting, it also offers a more profound effect on their lives. By reducing reliance on the use of candles and paraffin, fires are less likely to break out and residents are not risking their health by continuously breathing in the fumes given off by these sources of energy.

“Furthermore, students are able to do homework using good quality light and not strain their eyes in a household that normally shares one candle or lamp,” he adds.

“Following the successful installation of the lamps and charging station in Mount Frere, Schneider Electric will closely follow progress made thanks to this pilot site. We hope to see this project pave the way to ensuring a sustainable approach for other such endeavours to be funded by both local corporates as part of their CSI spend or even local government.”