An estimated 90% of the population of Mali has no access to electricity and is thus hostage to daylight to be productive. Italian architect Matteo Ferroni identified that this problem has a dramatic impact on the lives of villagers, particularly women, as it limits their ability to carryout their responsibilities. Through years of work he has developed a solar lamp that is sourced from locally available materials. The design is both light and sturdy, and can be easily moved by anyone to areas of the most need. The value of the light has allowed communities to rent its use to their neighbors for special and cultural events.
Matteo’s motto when he underwent he project was to ensure that the light “works for the people, not manufacturers.” Given its simple, cost-effective design, the light has changed the way people live in rural Mali. Women, who often have the most work to do, are now capable of continuing activities long after the sun has set. The renewable resource also helps bring down the environmental and economic costs that burning fossil fuels have on remote, poor communities.
While the model works well for rural Mali with long hours of sunlight, the particular design may prove less effective for other regions. While I cannot speculate on the availability of the materials it uses, the is a technical component to maintaining the lamp that might raise costs for small communities. While I’m confident that communities are able to develop equitable sharing mechanism, there is always a fear of one group monopolizing the use of this highly valuable asset.
The content for this article was first written by Tamasin Ford on The Guardian