Lighting up the darkness
According to Sumesh Rahavendra, head of marketing for DHL Express sub-Saharan Africa, studies conducted by the United Nations indicate that over 1,6 billion people still don’t have access to lighting – 30 percent of whom live in Africa. To combat this, DHL is using its dedicated network to deliver lighting to thousands of people in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Using solar-powered technology to give these people access to lighting is not just sustainable but also healthy, compared to conventional energy sources,” explains Rahavendra. “We have therefore partnered with two lighting organisations – Little Sun and Solar without Borders – on a pro-bono basis to provide much-needed, solar-powered lighting to people in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Felix Hallwachs, CEO of Little Sun, adds: “We are currently running active projects in six African countries, with more pilot projects underway across the rest of the continent and in southeast Asia. Together with our partners we’ve brought 25 000 solar lamps to users in Africa, in a system that empowers all participants.”
He points out that working with DHL provides an opportunity to engage a strong partner into the Little Sun network, in support of further distribution projects. “DHL is contributing to activating long-term sustainable development opportunities.”
The company is supporting Little Sun by moving 4 000 solar lamps from Germany to Ethiopia and South Africa.
In a similar move, the courier company has also partnered with Solar without Borders, a Belgian non-profit organisation, which has developed the Solar Kiosk – a central solar installation unit that can charge 100 lamps simultaneously.
“In this way we want to provide the most vulnerable people with decent, affordable and environmentally friendly lighting,” says Gilles Loobuyck, the project manager in Sierra Leone. “After providing training, the solar system and solar lamps can be made locally. Besides ‘getting people out of the dark’, Solar without Borders aims to encourage the transfer of knowledge, create employment and stimulate entrepreneurship.”
Rahavendra adds that giving back to African communities isn’t just a slogan for DHL Express. “Both Little Sun and Solar without Borders have great products that they are looking to distribute across Africa. Incidentally, international express distribution is what we do best.”