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Schmidtsdrift – Solar Energy brings hope to a struggling community

In a remote corner in the Northern Cape near Kimberley, lies Schmidtsdrift – a land with many challenges and a former army barracks where ex-recruits from the earlier war against SWAPO were settled, after Namibia’s independence in 1990.

Improved governmental policies

Highlighting the plight of previously-disadvantaged communities, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has developed a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) specifically to address the developmental backlogs and, in particular, the basic needs of all households in designated areas – such as Schmidtsdrift – which attained a strategic priority no. 3.

Challenges of Schmidtsdrift

The community already had partial – but nowhere near sufficient - electrification provided by the national grid. The demographics include urban, peri-urban and rural cattle posts. Most dwellings are shacks, RDP houses, stone houses and some privately-developed houses.

Within these parameters, the CRDP sought to provide the people of Schmidtsdrift with basic electricity and services. For with these come the basic rights to human dignity: access to lights , entertainment , information, security and communication; putting the people of Schmidtsdrift back in touch with the rest of the country.

Challenge Accepted

The challenge - an energy system that would satisfy these requirements and the resulting system design by SSS incorporated their SS20 smart Distribution box with a cell phone charging output, a solar panel that charges a battery housed in a stainless stell battery box, interior lighting and an outside security light with a motion sensor, A radio and a LCD Television set

With funding provided through the Expanded Public Work Programme, Specialised Solar Systems (SSS) was selected as service provider to bring alternative energy to the community. In keeping with SSS’s vision for providing managed, renewable and sustainable energy, 12 unemployed people (men and women) were selected by the community of Schmidtsdrift to be trained up as solar engineers.

Comprehensively Trained by SSS

These 12 students, unskilled and unemployed, received thorough training from SSS in solar energy and all its facets – from system design and maintenance, to installation, wiring, installing DB units, and the use of multimeters, to how to design and install further capacity for solar-powered appliances such as fridges and freezers.

The training comprised three intensive days of theory followed by three months of hands-on practical training. Watching the daily growth in the confidence, self-esteem and enthusiasm of all 12 students was palpable and heart-warming.

As one of the students enthused, “this project will assist us greatly by putting something on the table as life is difficult when one is not working."

An Elite Task Team Trained

Of the 12 students that completed the training, the top four students were selected for further training in more specialised tasks like fault-finding, diagnostics and developing entrepreneurial skills.

Looking Ahead to a Brighter Future

SSS’s rural project manager, Mr Carlos Smith, reported: “It was a privilege working with these eager, hopeful young people. It’s like watching a light go on in their eyes. Not only will their new-found knowledge help provide and maintain sustainable energy for Schmidtsdrift, they will be an inspiration to their whole community.”

“When you equip one person with skills, you provide them with the opportunity to earn a living. What we often don’t realise is how many other people rely on that one person, so you’re making life easier and more meaningful for more people than you know. It’s a really great feeling.”

 

For further information on complete rural off-grid solutions by Specialized Solar Systems please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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