As demonstrated by the silk road of the ancient world, ideas have the power to travel across continents and change people’s lives. Here’s the story of the Zonbulb by Intelizon Energy and its journey from India to the villages of West Africa. The profound effect the product has had on people in the region and their progress is uplifting. All this was initiated by one man, Mr. Ram Mohan, the Consular General of India in Gambia at the time. He saw the potential impact the product could have on many village folks in Africa. The journey of the solar light almost didn’t take off. Here’s more.
The Consular General’s to India Visit
Mr. Ram Mohan, consular general of India for Gambia visited India in 2008 for an Indo-African summit at NRDC, New Delhi. A technology and research oriented company Intelizon Energy was also a part of the summit. At the end of the day summit, NRDC presented a souvenir to Mr. Ram Mohan while he was leaving. The souvenir was a Zontorch, a product of Intelizon Energy private limited. This marked a starting point for Intelizon’s safari to Africa.
The Power Cut That Initiated the ‘Light Up a Village’ Initiative
For about six months, Mr. Ram Mohan didn’t think of using the gift that he got in India. A long power cut compelled him to switch on the Zontorch. Gasp! He was amazed to see the torch to get switched on and work decently even after months of non-utilization.
Then he thought why not light up the villages of Gambia with Zonbulb, in a place where people spend each day 25 cents for a candle. 25 cents amount to 7.5$ a month and about 90$ a year, which is much higher than a Zonbulb which is 75$ and lasts about 5 to 6 years or more. So, he started a noble mission called “Light Up a Village Initiative”. He gathered sponsors and set up a village lighting committee for each village. Under this initiative, 3500 dollars were collected for each village from sponsors and lights worth it were distributed in each village of about 70 to 80 houses. The village lighting committee collected 5 cents each day or 1.5$ each month, which is then used for the maintenance of the lights. The amount which was collected from the villagers was apparently far less than what they usually spent on candles per year.
“Look at the happy faces! It is a bliss to watch them celebrate,” said Mr. Ram Mohan when he shared the pictures of “Light Up a Village Initiative”. The villagers said only one thing “Zon Works”. In few months, Zonbulb traveled to countries all over Africa.
Lighting That Eradicates Darkness in More Ways Than One
The new Zonbulb that became an essential part of many homes in the villages started to play a much larger role than previously envisaged. The unwired solar lighting did more than just replaced candles. The families that used to previously live in flickering candle light at night depended on daylight for income generation. With the Zonbulb in their homes, they increased their productivity and enhanced their incomes. The children in the family also benefited from the new light and could study longer during late evenings. Their education is the main driving force behind their development. They are now able to leverage their new lighting to study better and eradicate poverty from their villages. This way, the Zonbulb drives development and growth of village families out of poverty.
This inspiring story of the Zonbulb is a testament to the kind of impact that efficient solar lighting can have not just in Africa but also across the world.