Ilembe, South Africa: Royal Philips Electronics (AEX: PHI, NYSE: PHG) has supplied sustainable cooking stoves and solar-driven LED home lighting for 200 households across the South African Ilembe district.
At today’s event in the municipality of Stanger, initiated by South African President Jacob Zuma and attended by high-level UN officials Helen Clark (UNDP) and Kandeh Yumkella (UNIDO), Philips, as the unique private partner to the event, showcased its low-carbon solutions to improve the lives of people living in rural communities without access to the electricity grid.
Philips supplied 30 new woodstoves in the municipality to improve the lives of those who rely on biomass for their daily cooking. The specially designed stoves are extremely efficient and significantly reduce the cutting of trees for cooking as they use little twigs as fuel. In addition, the new cook stove cuts back carbon emissions by 90%. Furthermore, toxic fumes can be cut by 95% thus slashing the health risks of indoor cooking. Fuel is found quickly and easily close to home, so woman do not need to collect wood in unprotected areas. In addition to increased safety, this also leaves more time for other occupations.
Philips also supplied 200 LED solar home lighting systems, solar lanterns and solar torches. The home lighting system is a complete LED lighting kit that has been designed to provide low-cost, highly efficient bright light for households and small businesses. The central solar panel-charged battery pack powers two LED lights. A full day’s charging in the sun (8 hours) will provide enough light for a whole evening.
The benefits are considerable. It is cheaper to run than kerosene lamps and provides a far higher quality light. It is also safer as there is no fire risk as with kerosene and better for people’s health as damaging smoke is avoided The LED lighting systems enable people to undertake more social and economic activities beyond sunset. Furthermore, this LED lighting solution provides children with the opportunity to do homework in the evenings.
“Today an estimated 560 million Africans live without electricity,’’ says JJ van Dongen, CEO for Philips Africa. “For these people nighttime means either darkness or the flickering light of a candle or kerosene lamp. However the disadvantages of Kerosene lanterns are many, including safety and health risks, high costs due to the link with oil prices. And the light output of these lanterns is so low as to make visibility almost impossible. Using the energy of the sun to power lighting solutions can make a true difference here,” he added.
Philips' partners in the project are UNIDO, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Industrial Development Corporation South Africa (IDC).
According to figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA), some 1.6 billion people in the world today live without access to electricity. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example it goes dark all year round at about 6.30-7.00 pm and this darkness holds back economic and social development. Access to effective, energy efficient and sustainable solar lighting has the potential to strengthen Africa’s economic, social, educational and cultural activities in a life-changing way.