The Gauteng Province, which includes Johannesburg and capital city Pretoria, is South Africa’s richest province and Africa’s fourth-largest economy, providing about 35% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But many of its black residents live in dire poverty in make-shift houses without jobs, electricity and adequate sanitation. Crime is widespread, and alcohol and drug abuse are also rife in these townships .
Most residents living in these areas use candles for lighting and cook on paraffin stoves, which threaten their health and can lead to major fire which causes death and injuries.
Now, South Africa’s official political opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), in terms of its Light up your Life campaign launched last year, has been bringing solar power to put some smile in the face of these residents. The campaign aims at eliminating dangerous candles and paraffin used for lighting in informal settlements without electricity,” Jack Bloom, DA caucus leader in Gauteng said in a statement.
So far, 80 shacks in various informal settlements in Gauteng have been provided with solar-powered lighting, benefiting more than 300 people, according to Bloom.
Recently, the political party brought solar power to families of nine shacks in Tsakane Extension 10 in Brakpan, Ekurhuleni, (East Rand,). “The solar installation in Tsakane Ext 10 includes the home of Mr Kenneth Manama where I spent the night in December last year as part of the DA’s Don’t forget the forgotten campaign to visit neglected areas and uplift them,” he said.
Willem van der Merwe, of the Solar Gateway company in Brakpan, has generously donated this installation, which includes lights and a cellphone charger for each of the nine shacks linked up to a single solar panel, Bloom explained.
Bloom told Moon of the South: “This donation cost the company about R8000 (about 950 USD). We are looking to roll out a more cost-effective alternative in other informal settlements. This has started in Gauteng, but interest has been expressed in other provinces.
“It’s something that will gather momentum as people realise the benefits. Government at all levels has only been interested in solar power for formal houses, but the need is greater in informal settlements that have no electricity at all. We are looking for more donors, but small loans and savings clubs will help with the solar alternative which saves money spent on candles and paraffin.”
Tsakane Ext 10 has about 6500 shacks, and Bloom said the party was looking for companies’ sponsorships and donations from Good Samaritans to provide light to all the ‘homes’ in that area.
*Photo supplied. DA’s Jack Bloom, right, with Kenneth Manana charging his cellphone on it.