Thanks to GreenBiz news for pointing us to Kenya's Simple Solar Assembling Project (SSAP), which today won the inaugural 2007 World Clean Energy Award in the products category. The project was initiated through the help of Fredrick Ouko (passport photo above), who facilitated the beginning of a technological transfer training through a linkage to a volunteer from the United Kingdom. The project now "...employs primarily young people in Kibera, one of Sub-Saharan Africa's largest slums, to build photovoltaic power panels that are then used throughout the area to provide affordable renewable power to residents, as well as giving economic opportunities to the region." Mr. Ouko's project was one of the over 70 other clean energy achievements from 20 countries that had been nominated by Worldwatch Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and other well-known institutions. An eight-member jury of experts selected the winners, listed here.
The World Clean Energy Awards was created by the Swiss group the Transatlantic21 Association, and will take place in a different country every year. Designed to set new standards in seven categories, these awards "celebrate applied clean and renewable energy solutions. They honor innovative projects that move Clean Energy from scientific and experimental applications into integrated, broad-based use." This aspect--the transition from experiment to broad based application--is precisely what i find most appealing about the SSAP. The majority of us are accustomed to thinking of solar PV technology as something that is simply too expensive for general, broad-based use. So it is quite refreshing to discover a project like SSAP that makes solar PV accessible to low-income earners, to the extent that "even though the project has been undertaken in the Kibera Slum, use of the solar panels made there has spread to all parts of Kenya, and even to neighbouring countries where groups have requested trainings to undertake similar projects in their own localities"!
Congratulations to Ouko and all members of the Kibera Community Youth Programme Team.