Mali's solar-powered lamp-posts

From Global development | The Guardian Fri Dec 28 2012, 04:00:02

An Italian architect has transformed life in the Mali village of Sanogola by designing a portable, locally manufactured light

Momodou Keita, town chief of Sanogola, a small village 300km north of Bamako, Mali's capital, stands proudly beside the community's solar-powered lamp-post - a shiny, blue, enamel-coated construction of welded bicycle parts and water pipes. "Ten villages now want these lamps," he announces with pride from inside his traditional Malian mud-walled compound. "Now we have electricity and it helps us so much," he says.

Solar technology is spreading throughout countries across Africa and it is getting cheaper and more efficient. The searing rays of sunlight coupled with the lack of electricity grids on the continent make this renewable form of energy a no-brainer. But what makes Foroba Yelen, or Collective Light - the name given to the lamp-posts by the women of the area - so different is that it was designed specifically for the Malian communities who would end up using it, earning funding from the University of Barcelona for winning a special mention in the City to City Barcelona FAD (El Foment de les Arts i el Disseny/Support for Art and Design) award, a competition recognising initiatives that transform communities across the world.

Italian architect Matteo Ferroni spent three years studying villages in rural Mali, where close to 90% of the population have no access to electricity. He wanted to design a light that villagers could manufacture ...

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