The drive to mitigate carbon emissions and deforestation in Liberia by using renewable energy has been a challenge over the last 10 years, as the postwar nation grapples with how to embrace the concept. On the one hand, there has been the limited expertise regarding design, build and maintenance; on the other hand, low budgets have scared many away from investing in natural energy sources that could pay for themselves in a relatively short amount of time – and reap cost savings for many more years to come. And if these challenges weren’t enough, there still exists the tendency to ‘stick with the devil we know rather than the angel we don’t know’… yet.
But as the Energizing Development (EnDev) project of GIZ, located on Congo Town back road, discovered in February this year; it takes a different kind of sales pitch – some creative evangelism, if you will – to ‘energize’ belief in the possibilities of renewable energy, particularly solar power.
So in February the EnDev office, which runs on 100% solar power, decided to screen a movie on a projector for kids in the neighborhood. The children started coming around as soon as they heard the loud-speakers during the sound check process. By the time the movie started, there was not a single empty spot remaining in front of the screen. Even more interesting, it excited the children to be watching a movie without having to challenge the noise of a generator – the birth of what is now known as the Solar Cinema.
For the GIZ/EnDev office, this is the means of bringing children together and educating them about the importance of renewable energy to their livelihoods. The EnDev office has been powered completely by solar energy since June 2015 has not faced any power cuts during the past rainy season.
A series of powerful batteries charged during the day provide enough energy for night-time security as well as the Solar Cinema.
“EnDev is installing solar systems, mainly in schools and clinics in remote places, to light up the lives of Liberians and sometimes even to power computers and printers,” the organization says.
The project helps enhance the lives of people in rural communities by providing access to efficient, renewable energy such as solar Lamps, as well as Solar Dryers, which are mostly used for drying cocoa beans. EnDev also promotes clean cooking technologies such as the locally produced and long lasting Red Fire Pot. This is a coal-pot that uses less charcoal but burns longer, compared to the usual coal-pots on the market.
EnDev is a multi-donor project working in different fields with the focus to energize the rural areas. Implemented by GIZ, the project is funded by the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia and Germany.
EnDev also partners with local solar energy vendors to provide training in set-up, installation and maintenance of solar powered sets.