A dawn for South Africa’s poor?

Getting wired up. Credit: Kuyasa CDM project

A lack of funds is stalling the second phase of the Kuyasa solar energy project, South Africa’s first internationally registered Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

I was part of the group of ASADI delegates who chose to visit the solar project while others visited the Koeberg nuclear power station and or the Palmiet Pumped Storage Scheme – a hydroelectricity venture between power utility Eskom and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry

Guided by Zuko Ndamane, the site project manager at the Kuyasa project site in the poor Cape Town township of Khayelitsha, we saw how cheap energy had transformed the lives of residents.

The Kuyasa project (Kuyasa means dawn in Xhosa, a local language) has fitted free government houses with solar water heaters and insulated ceilings.

“The pride in the projects is it was 100 percent locally driven, local people were trained to install the water heaters. With its success we are now struggling for funds to complete the phase two of the project,” said Ndamane.

One woman who had an opportunity to welcome the researchers into her own house beamed with pride as she explained how happy she was to live in a secure house with access to affordable electricity.

As the tour bus drove off, it was clear to us visitors that this project could be replicated elsewhere in Africa.

Munyaradzi Makoni, freelance journalist for SciDev.Net

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