Susan Opok, Managing Director of PEAS Uganda, talks to COINS Foundation about social enterprise, high quality education, and partnering with COINS to roll-out solar energy across their Ugandan schools.
The COINS Foundation solar energy initiative, seeks to provide PEAS schools with an off-grid solution to electricity and make solar solutions sustainable. We are also collaborating with NanoFab Tools, a start-up technology company. We plan to install off-grid solar installations in rural areas of Africa.
Over one-quarter of the world’s population lives without access to electricity. This falls to less than 10 percent of households in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank).
The role of electricity is critical for development. It offers, for example, the possibility of food preservation (fridges and freezers), fresh water (using water pumps and filtration systems), and can reduce mortality and disease through the refrigeration of medicines. Rural areas in many countries have remained without electricity due to the high cost of extending the electrical grid.
Off-grid solar installations offer an excellent solution since they can bring electricity wherever the sun shines, and can be backed-up by storage batteries after dark. Our goal is to improve the quality of life by bringing light after dark without the need to burn kerosene lamps, which can have serious health consequences. Access to electricity is expected to lead to the growth of business opportunities and employment, since local shops and companies will be able to stay open longer. It will also enable improved communications by powering radios, televisions and computers.
PEAS is developing a growing network of high quality, affordable schools across Uganda and Zambia. PEAS UK fundraises to launch a secondary school, allowing it to open debt free. Then, a combination of subsidies from pioneering public-private partnerships (PPPs) with the Ugandan and Zambian government, boarding school fees and school farms, mean that within two years, the school itself will generate enough revenue to cover its running costs, including teacher salaries, indefinitely. PEAS’ vision is to build a network of schools which provides 100,000 places will provide education for up to half a million students over the next twenty years. 100 sustainable secondary schools will also generate enough revenue to make the central team fully independent of UK funding by 2021.
About NanoFab Tools: The company specializes in semiconductor device fabrication, photovoltaic installations and energy efficiency applications. Its technical products and services include advanced nanofabrication systems, research and development, technical consulting and writing, however the company also has a division dedicated to Foundation projects. NanoFab Tools is an advocate of shared value principles, and aims to transfer the knowledge of how to carry out photovoltaic installations to bring new business opportunities and job creation to impoverished regions.