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Kenyan man distributing solar lanterns recognized by CNN

Every year, CNN chooses its Top 10 Heroes—ten selfless community crusaders from around the world who make a significant difference in people’s lives daily—and from this list, readers choose the CNN Hero of the Year.

This year, one of the Top 10 Heroes is 23-year-old Evans Wadongo, a native Kenyan who has distributed more than 10,000 solar lanterns to poor rural communities in Kenya for free.

Through the Sustainable Development for All’s solar lantern program, Use Solar, Save Lives, Wadongo has delivered an estimated 14,000 solar-powered LED lanterns to impoverished villages in rural areas. Replacing dangerous fires and expensive, smoky, and polluting kerosene lanterns, the solar lanterns aim to reduce respiratory disease, eye distress and climate change.

The lanterns, known as “Mwangabora,” the Kenyan term for “better light,” also serve an important economic function. By offsetting the money normally used to buy kerosene fuel—an average of $4 USD a week—villagers in distressed communities are able to buy food and begin to lift themselves out of poverty.

To date, Use Solar, Save Lives has aided in the start of 15 unique economic community ventures, improving education standards by providing light for students, and providing income for sustenance in poor, rural communities. These lanterns can not only be used for camping but are also suited for reading. Wadongo notes that 65,000 people have been helped so far thanks to the distribution of solar lanterns, many of whom are school-age children.

But he wants to do more. His goal is to distribute 100,000 solar lanterns and set up a workshop in Kenya for the production of the lanterns, each of which costs 25 dollars to produce. He’s hoping being named a Top Ten Hero by CNN will help bring awareness to his cause and garner support from individuals, non-profits, and other organizations.

“I got the idea when I was working on Christmas lights during my first year in campus,” said Wadongo. “And I reflected back on my upbringing and the life I went through. It’s the best thing we can do for these communities.”

CNN Tribute to Evans Wadongo

Renewable Energy in Africa

Report: Solar Energy Cheaper Than Nuclear Energy

By Samuel R. Avro, August 2010
It is becoming more and more evident each day that solar energy is now the choice of renewable energies amongst homeowners and business professionals.

Pricing of photovoltaic (PV) systems has been declining while the infrastructure setup costs and operations have been steadily increasing for nuclear power plants.

Electrical energy sold from solar PVs in many regions of the world is on the lower side of 14 cents (US)/kWh, while electricity created by nuclear energy is selling for between 14-18 cents (US)/kWh.

John Blackburn, a professor of Economics said that although this lower cost is being delivered by businesses, the cost to consumers would be somewhat higher.

However, with the ever increasing costs of nuclear power steadily rising while solar power generation not only holds par but allows an opportunity for a payback, the choice becomes that much easier to make for an investor, business person and consumer.

When governments announce nuclear power project costs to be $2 billion per reactor, it is not hard to imagine conservative estimates more accurately at $10 billion for future reactors.

Governments very rarely are able to stick to budgets to new construction and time deliverables and it has become a matter of course that construction costs tend to rise several times over. It is always easier to sell a project when the costs don’t seem as high in the beginning.

For an average person, it is not hard compare costs to risk factors.
Solar energy costs on the low end & nuclear energy costs on the higher end
Solar energy cost stability & nuclear energy cost continual increases
Solar energy payback potential & nuclear energy no payback potential
Solar energy being green & nuclear energy that is not green and has contamination risks
(and…just where does all the nuclear waste get stored?)

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