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Prince Africa Zulu of Onkweni Royal House takes a journey to develop rural electrification with DC Microgrid solar technology

HRH, Prince Africa Zulu of Onkweni Royal House, a descendant of Prince Shingana KaMpande, undertakes a journey to develop rural communities through DC Microgrid solar electrification.

Immersed by ordinary people’s concerns in the rural areas and searching for ways to improve their life circumstances, Prince Africa has become passionate about affordable, renewable, sustainable energy – a means which he firmly believes can fast-track his nation’s way towards a better, brighter future.

For with energy comes development, the creation of jobs, infrastructure, schools, clinics, water sanitation and access to a whole range of appliances that can make the lives of his people easier, more enriched and more enlightened.

Take the simplest thing: an electric light bulb. Something we take so for granted we hardly notice it anymore. But this humblest of devices can open a new world to previously disadvantaged people. With electric light, there’s a possibility to finish homework after dark, read books, study, tell stories and enjoy a wealth of family and social activities.

Access to the Grid is not an option

A passion of Prince Africa Zulu that is so dear to his heart is the plight of rural dwellers. He was also brought up in the same environment, often in the most remote areas. He has dedicated himself to rural upliftment programmes: Health Care, Heritage programmes, and many others. One of the saddest realities for him is that many of these people will have as much chance of getting access to the national electricity grid within the next 20 years as they would of finding Aladdin’s lamp in a nearby cave.

Existing systems for heating and lighting are exorbitant

Prince Africa’s rural (and urban) poor are often at the mercy of unscrupulous merchants – who charge premiums for paraffin, the most widely-used fuel source aside from dwindling wood resources. Other sources are equally costly: candles, charcoal, wood-fuel, and generators.

Innovative New Solar System discovered

HRH believes in the fact that a lot of solutions are necessary for the development of life in the rural and urban areas; solutions that would not pose a threat to the environment. He has since explored different options like wind and solar energy.

Today we focus on solar energy as an alternative to the rural crisis.

In the Prince’s quest to find a viable, sustainable energy source, HRH has partnered with Specialized Solar Systems (SSS) in order to ensure that the campaign to make rural households electrified is a possible dream.

This new technology certainly ticks all the right boxes!

Using DC (direct current) technologies, rather than the more traditional AC (alternating current) ones, SSS has been able to develop an off-grid solar system that is far safer (no open flames) and is made to the highest safety and design specifications. Because it’s a modular system, it offers an incredible degree of design flexibility that can be adapted to the needs of any home or dwelling, or even any large-scale project (eg an entire village).

Pilot studies already undertaken in Thembalethu, a disadvantaged area near George, showed a remarkable savings of around 60% in running costs compared to traditional paraffin usage.

Not just about sales

SSS has been working together with universities, NGOs, local government and local communities and their leaders to determine the best ways of getting these affordable, renewable energy systems to the people in a sustainable manner. With years of research, development, and testing – both of the products and the people who would be using them – an extensive training division and programme have been developed.

Community Support and Job Creation

A vital aspect of getting these off-grid solar energy systems safely installed and providing lasting, hassle-free energy is for the people or end-users to take ownership of the scheme. Management, training, job creation, maintenance, and production opportunities are specifically in place to empower individuals and the community as a whole.

Solar is the Way Forward

HRH’s partnership with relevant stakeholders is making sure that ordinary South Africans and Africans get maximum benefit from the solar technological advancements and discoveries. This includes other forms of energy.

“Let us provide solutions that are friendly to both our nations and our environments. Earth is a mother to us all. Without the proper care she will just collapse and the future for us humans stands the risk of fading away from the face of this planet. Let us do what we can today. Let us all do our part!”

– HRH Prince Africa Zulu of Onkweni Royal House


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