Lights and television is on.
On August 14 we finally switched on the lights in the village of Bokosso to the amazement and joy of the people. Finally after generations of waiting, they got access to electricity and cableTV. The installation of Internet is going on; in a couple of weeks, they can join the rest of the world in Googeling and talking to family and friends on Skype. Or being on Facebook. A brand new future awaits. A brighter future.
Town Hall Meeting before switching on the lights.
This was a huge undertaking. Four years ago we started. Now we are there. It`s done. We have done what no others have done before us, at least what we are aware of and have been able to check out. Deep in the tropical rainforest of Cameroon we have installed a solar power station, built a local power-grid, providing the people with electricity, cableTV and Internet.Coupled with entrepreneurship training and micro financing, the people will have access to the outside world and for the first time in their life having a real opportunity to escape poverty and eye a brighter future for themselves and their families. Not strange they celebrated; lasting all night. All lights on, singing and dancing in the streets. Jubilation. Celebration. A sleepless night. A privilege for SunErgy and the SunErgy people to participate, celebrating the result of their hard labour. Awesome.
”The Switching on Team” in front of the solar power station.
Yes, some doubted when we started and referred to the project as ”mission impossible”. We never wavered. We were dead set that this we will do. We shall prove to the world that deep in the tropical rainforest we can do it. And together we did. Together with the local people of Bokosso, the employees of Sunergy Cameroon, the government of Cameroon represented by the Prime Minster, the government of Norway represented by NORAD, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Energy Division), GIEK, EksportKreditt and various world leading equipment suppliers; the list goes on! The contributors are many. A big thanks to all of you!
Bokosso solar power station.
After having done it in the tropical rainforest of Cameroon, we know that we can bring electricity, CableTV and Internet to countless millions around the world, presently living in darkness. The famous song of Frank Sinatra ”New York.New York” has been ringing in our ears sine August 14. ”If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. New York, New York.” However, we are sining, not about New York, rather about Bokosso. ”If we can make it here, we can make it anywhere. Bokosso. Bokosso”. Anywhere in the world people can have the ”Bokosso experience”. All excuses removed. The light is on!
Bokosso by night. Not exactly New York, but a good start.
The system meets the highest quality standards, being delivered by world leading equipment suppliers and thoroughly tested and qualified by the Norwegian company Multiconsult before switched on.
Responsible for the project was Dr. Stein Skjørshammer and Mr. Mike Fohba, Managing Director SunErgy Cameroon.
Some may ask ”what about the cost? Maybe that will be a prohibiting factor?” Here is the calculation: people can have a brighter future, access to the outside world and the opportunity to escape poverty for less than the cost of one bottle of Cameroon beer per day. Even better: The people of Bokosso drink an average of 60 000 bottles of beer per year. If they would drink 45 000 bottles of beer (which should be more than enough) rather than 60 000, they have covered the cost. Paid the price. Or more bluntly, the prospect of a brighter future was hidden in 15 000 bottles; cutting down the drinking with twenty-five percent. No real sacrifice considering the gain! For the people of Bokosso, the choice was rather easy when hearing the explanation and given the choice. We are confident, tens of millions of people will make the same choice if and when given the opportunity. And the best, It is commercially viable and sustainable. They pay themselves. This is not about handouts or freebies. A huge opportunity for Norwegian solar business; coupling making money with doing good. Trade and not aid.
”The Switchin on Team” enjoying first evening meal in full light.
Conclusion: There is no reason (whatsoever) why not all people around the world, presently living in darkness, can`t share in ”the Bokosso experience”. The desire and wish is there. We have (at least) requests from more than twenty-five countries around the world for similar projects: ”When will you come to our country?” 1.5 billion of the world`s population live in darkenss. Only Sub-shara 800 millions. Now we can shift the focus from talking and discussing about the misery, to providing opportunity and possibility! It has never been better, more realistic and possible. It is all there! Proven. Done. Working.
There are many other benefits connected to this, such as climate, preserving the rainforest, health, e-medizine, education, business and community development just to mention a few; the list is endless, imagination being the only limitation. Here are only winners!
By the way; a Cameroon television team (HiTV) made a program from the opening to be aired this week. They also made a shorter version soon to be available on U-Tube. For those interested, we will inform when posted on U-Tube. Just a little editing remains.
So what`s ahead? This week we started work on the next two villages. The plan calls for 6 villages to be ”electrified” this year, with all 92 villages in the project to be finished by 2018, totaling 121 000 families or 600 000 people, plus schools, health centers, government offices and local businesses.
The Board of Directors has also given Pareto Securities the mandate to arrange for a share capital increase of SunErgy.
The Official Opening is planned for October/November.The Prime Minister of Cameroon, who has shown keen interest and support from the very beginning has been invited to conduct the Official Opening. As soon as the date is set, we will let you know in case some would like to come along.
Text and photo credits: Stein Skjorshammer