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Solar Energy in rural Kwazulu Natal
by Prudence M
Africa / US Energy Ministerial Conference & Women in Energy

solar cells
Photo: James Carroll
Maphephetheni, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa •• Dec. 15, 2000 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service •• After all the speeches on the third day of the conference, a trip out to Maphephetheni, just outside of Durban, was what the conference participators needed. Maphephetheni is a very rural area but the significance was that steps had been taken to bring about electrification into this area that had previously relied on the basic methods of getting power and light. A school by the name of Myeka High School was our first stop, this school had solar power installed about three years ago and had solar-powered computers that pupils from Grade 8-12 used. Other advantages that the implementation of solar power in this school has brought is that this school now has lights, and they now have Internet access which the teachers say has been a tremendous new learning experience where the children have been able to find all sorts of educational information that they need and it has made their learning so much more fun and esier. This solar energy sponsorship was donated by the Solar Engineering Service. The University Of Durban Westville has also played a big role in technologically uplifting this school by donating a weather channel for the pupils!! When asked about the matric pass rate, the teachers told us that it was a good 70%!

Our second, also very interesting stop was the pilot project of biogas digesters which is made up of polythene and carbon dioxide which the gas is used to power the village for cooking, light and such to this nature. Solar energy is favourable to Maphephetheni as this is a very sunny area and for me personally it was a great pleasure to see the area upgraded technologically which gives them a chance to better their lives as most of the people are unemployed here and rely on selling their handcraft which is mostly beadwork.

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