Mozambique is a Southern African country with a fast growing economy. A recent publication put its expected growth rate at 7.4 percent this year, making it the tenth-fastest growing market in Africa. According to the publication, urbanisation growth is “swelling existing urban nodes” and the “development of slums and a strain on inadequate infrastructure in urban sectors” are some of the threats urbanisation could bring about in the fast growing market.
Currently Mozambique is facing a few challenges in the supply of electricity to rural communities. The Mozambican government is supplying an electricity infrastructure as wide as possible. But the challenge is with outlying areas far of the grid. Ventures Africa spoke to Dr. Brian Faul about his work with Solar Mozambique and how this initiative is assisting Mozambique with home solar solutions.
VA: Tell us a little bit more about yourself?
DR FAUL: I have been living in Mozambique for the past year working closely within rural communities. I have always tried to improve lives of those people less fortunate using innovative technologies that are affordable at the same time.
I have a passion to see smiling children and elderly people in happy communities. Over the last few years my involvement with the development of a few technologies has been able to benefit in this regard e.g. the adaptation of the Fibonaci spiral.
Briefly in nature everything is formed using the Fibonacci code or sequence. Flowers trees and all living specimens within nature are encoded accordingly. Pick up any flower or leaf or sea shell and see for yourself. Dr Emoto from Japan describes this very well in his work surrounding polluted water systems worldwide . When water falls from the clouds it arrives as a unique unpolluted specimen it is then channelled through many pipes and channels breaking the unique sequence. Water is a living specimen and carries life of its own. Once purification chemicals are added and it has gone through the cycles of channels etc it loses its innate ability to fully replenish and heal the human body as intended. The spiral I invented is a copper unit built according to the fibonacci code and as water holds energy it is then restructured accordingly returning it to the wholesome state as it arrived from the clouds. The numbers in the sequence are 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144
I have found that by using the spiral to return water to its natural state the benefits its holds for mankind are fantastic. I presented this simple technology to the Free State Government a few years ago.
VA: Given your background as analternative medicine practitioner, what shaped your direction towards starting Solar Solutions?
DR FAUL: In dealing with people on ground level back in South Africa I noticed many more people are suffering from respiratory conditions than years before. I simply put it down to environmental factors within city confines.After being in Mozambique for some time I noticed a recurring pattern within people. At first I could not understand why people living in very unpolluted areas with plenty fresh ocean air were suffering from respiratory conditions. It was only after I visited some rural homes that it began making sense. Kerosine fumes are slowly killing people. Children are worst off with Asthma and other respiratory problems frequently reported. School closes late afternoon in Mozambique and many children need to do homework by candlelight and kerosine lamps. This causes untold long term damage to eyesight and breathing problems. After dark everything shuts down due to lack of adequate lighting.
In rural areas ablution facilities are outside in an area away from homes this makes access difficult after hours.Night trade is hampered due to inadequate lighting. We sought a solution for this and found it in simple solar lamps. I then noticed that almost everyone in Mozambique have cellular phones but limited capability in charging these due to lack of electrical infrastructure. We then found a solution in a solar lamp and cellphone charging combination unit. While driving one day soon after arriving in Mozambique we noticed a middle-aged woman carrying a huge supply of wood on her shoulders. After noticing this daily I enquired and was told that the woman of Mozambique are responsible for collecting firewood for fuel and lighting. It then transpired that sometimes the woman have to walk many kilometres thunder wind or rain to collect firewood.
They often leave the home at the crack of dawn to source enough wood for the day. Many villagers combine cooking efforts so I investigated and found a simple solution. A Solar cooker made of durable recycled plastic. The basic operation is so simple it is a case of placing uncooked food in a black pot within the cooker and leaving it in the sun for a few hours. The results are very tasty cooked meals. The natural habitat is slowly being destroyed as villages expand and natural resources become less. I have now also come across a unique concept in the home solar industry i.e. pre-paid solar units. The basis is simple villagers pay a small amount of money and obtain a pre-paid solar unit. These units are activated by purchasing affordable scratch cards. After a certain period of time the system is paid off by use of scratch cards and then the systems unlocks for unlimited use.
VA: You have a special bond with the respective ‘Chiefs” from different rural villages in Mozambique. How does this help your cause?
DR FAUL: We have established very good relationship between all the chiefs. In Mozambique, the chiefs are the frontline of communication between myself and local communities. The chiefs are like father figures to all people of Mozambique they also uphold tradition and laws governing local tribal customs. The chiefs also approve all new ventures regarding villagers and villages. In Mozambique the chiefs hold a tremendous amount of power.In fact the chiefs have more say in certain instances than local government.Many times the opinion of the chief has more say than government and government also consults with local chiefs regarding all decision making process.
VA: Africa has a significant shortage of any form of energy. Paint our readers a picture of the real situation(related to lack of energy) in Mozambique?
DR FAUL: The simple fact is that as Africa becomes more westernized in all aspects the given lack of energy resources impacts negatively on this.The fact that in this day and age woman who are mothers and leaders still have to work like slaves in order to support their families with basic amenities such as firewood and having to walk many km in the sun to obtain this daily is not befitting with current times in society.Not having access to simple resources such as lighting and cellphone charging capabilities is just not sufficient in current times
VA: Based on your experience in Mozambique, specifically rural areas, how could any form energy be of assistance to rural communities?
DR FAUL: Any form of sustainable energy resources will be and is welcomed with open arms
VA: Is the government involved at all with such initiatives?
DR FAUL: I am not involved with government so I cannot comment on their involvement
VA: What has Solar Solutions achieved so far?
DR FAUL: In the past year we have set up an entire network of information regarding solar and the potential value this may add. We have run a trial using systems from South Africa with tremendous interest. The only problem in this area is cost as the majority of people we deal with daily simply do not have funds available.
VA: If I were living in rural Mozambique at this moment, what would it cost me to install the most basic for or energy solution?
DR FAUL: Anywhere between 300.00 rand ($34) and 15000 rand ($1,700)
VA: Are there any international development agencies or energy companies involved in the project?
DR FAUL: I am not aware of the operation of international agencies currently working in our area.
VA: How much room is there to make a difference and what solutions are there that can be replicated in other parts of Africa?
DR FAUL: The amount of difference this will and can make is tremendous. Part of the current plan is to use our current model of operation as an example to other African countries. This is going to involve contact with international press agencies and government officials in Africa. The plan is to document our program in fine detail and to showcase these results to the rest of Africa
Click here for more information on Solar Solutions in Mozambique.