Access to electricity is a big problem in informal settlements, often leading to disasters such as shack fires and death by inhaling too much gas. The Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality yesterday unveiled a plan to help with the introduction of solar power in selected informal settlements.

Money has been allocated as part of the Department of Energy’s Integrated National Electrification Programme (INEP) for a pilot project will see non-grid solar home systems installed in 3 000 shacks and approximately 50 solar street lights around the various informal settlements.

“The first phase is expected to consist of approximately 3 000 installations of a basic Photo Voltaic System that consist of one PV panel, a battery, charge controller, four LED lights with switches and a 12V car cigarette lighter socket to charge mobile phones,” said the municipality’s standing committee chairperson for Infrastructure, Engineering, Electricity and Energy, Andile Mfunda.

“Depending on the success of the pilot phase and the availability of additional funding, the provision of cooking appliances such as Gel Stoves could also be provided.

According to the municipality, the cost for the solar street lights is estimated at R2.1 million, the installation of the non-grid home solar system at R12.9 million and then another R7 million for the maintenance and monitoring of the system.

“Depending on the success of the pilot phase and the availability of additional funding, the provision of cooking appliances such as Gel Stoves could also be provided,” Mfunda said.

The project will be evaluated over the next five years.

[Source – Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Image – CC 2.0/ Wikimedia Commons]