IEEE Smart Village
IEEE Smart Village (ISV) empowers more than 150,000 people in more than 100 villages around the world. One particular project in 2017 clearly targets the three pillars of ISV: Social Enterprise, Education and Access. The Shakti Empowerment Solutions Pvt Ltd projects combine community education with entrepreneurial business opportunities to provide rural villagers with access to clean energy and education, creating a blueprint for a scalable rollout to 10 villages in five years and transforming 41 communities by 2027.
The solar energy enterprise powers households, small commercial beneficiaries and community resources such as a water purification plant, impacting approximately 150 families. The education program provides village members with access to classes held in a community center with reliable electricity and internet connectivity.
Transforming Lives in Cameroon
Igniting Africa’s “Bright Village” solar energy program provides life-transforming energy in three villages in North West Cameroon (west Africa). Before the advent of reliable and continuous power in these communities, life was tough for villagers, especially small market business owners and youth. In the villages, barbering was done with hand sheers and razor blades; those who didn’t like a haircut with scissors had to travel to the nearest town with grid electricity, which was a three-hour or more walk away. Today, all three villages have hair care salons using electric clippers, creating employment for seven young barbers and beauticians. The lives of these young Cameroonians have now been made more meaningful thanks to the presence of reliable solar power in their communities.
The solar power plants of Igniting Africa serve as training grounds for students of the Igniting Africa School of Humanitarian Entrepreneurship and students from local universities that don’t have electricity laboratories. At the power station, students from poor, rural communities learn about the systems and capabilities that are most needed in their community, like home wiring, solar installation and maintenance, solar water pumping and irrigation, and energy entrepreneurship.
This tuition-free, work-study training program makes education accessible to the rural poor. As Igniting Africa’s solar stations are managed by the graduates, the solar stations offer them direct job opportunities.
Previously, village shops would close by 6 pm due to the lack of lighting. Since the arrival of solar power, however, shops now operate up until 10 pm, which has led to increased sales and income for shop owners. Villagers now stay around the market square into the night, which has added a new and different social dynamic to village life.
By The Numbers
- 150,000: Lives impacted and transformed
- 1,082.7: Kilowatts deployed
- 100+: Villages illuminated
- $33.24: Cost per beneficiary
- 83: Students from 21 countries enrolled in the Regis Master of Development Practice degree program (up from 61 in 10 countries from 2016)