Vodacom solar powers rural village

2013-02-11 11:06
Vodacom has used solar energy to power a rural school. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Vodacom has used solar energy to power a rural school. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Solar energy can benefit rural communities far from grid infrastructure a Vodacom project has shown.

The mobile operator has used solar energy powering its base station near the rural village of Emfihlweni in northern KwaZulu-Natal to power a school and community shop.

"What Vodacom did after long discussions with community leaders and the chief in the area is to look at: How do we use our existing network to give back some kind of assistance to the community that uses our existing infrastructure?" Suraya Hamdulay, Vodacom’s executive head of CSI and Sustainability told News24.

The base had previously been running on diesel because of its isolation, and solar energy represented a cost saving to the operator.

"We retrofitted [our base station] and got off diesel and started using solar panels to power up our base station. We ran some cables to the nearby school.

"We powered a block of the school using solar energy - 100% clean energy for the school's purposes: All their admin purposes. We gave them computers for the first time; switched on their lights," Hamdulay said.


The local community shop, which also received solar panels, has resulted in the community having improved access to cellphone service.

"What the community is now doing is set up a cellphone recharge station in the community shop. Members of the community who previously would have to take a taxi to the nearest town, and pay to have their cellphones charged, are now getting their cellphones recharged," said Hamdulay.

This project mirrors a similar one in Vleiland, near Laingsburg in the Western Cape province where the community received a solar-powered base station.

Vodacom said that an unintended consequence of the project has been that the school and shop have become community centres.

"We intended the project would boost education and give the kids access to technology and allow matriculants to come to the school in the evening and study, but what has actually happened, is it as now become a hub of community activity.

"The little school hall is now being used for community activities because we now have electricity," Hamdulay said.

Community benefit

In addition, the electrification has resulted in access to government services, Hamdulay added.

"Members of the community now come and make copies of their IDs; they're able to print documents from government websites for birth and death certificates and they now have access to a whole range of government services purely because Vodacom is powering their admin block at the school."

The operator warned that while these projects had seen communities benefit, it was not in the business of rolling out electricity and would a careful case-by-case study for further projects.

"We're not an electricity provider; this is a CSI project, but what we're saying is that is real remote communities where we want to do good, we have existing infrastructure and it's our network," said Hamdulay.

"People may think there are many sites in the country that are off grid, but not many fit the criteria. You may have many off-grid sites, but not with a community that close by."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
- News24
Read more on:    vodacom  |  mobile  |  renewable energy

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike

Watch this insane drift contest with four-times dirt-track World champion Karl Maier riding a speedway bike against a BMW M235i.



Want to start talking dirty?
Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a strong focus on social interaction and connecting with your friends. You may have the need to expand and connect with a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.