PHOTOS: Supplied
PHOTOS: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG -  A remote village located 300 km north of Polokwane now has sustainable access to energy and water as a result of a partnership between the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Schneider Electric South Africa.

The Gwakwani community had previously relied on water supplied from a diesel-powered borehole, which was insufficient for daily use. Through the initiative, both a second borehole pump and a new drip irrigation system were installed, allowing community members to grow vegetables for their own use and for sale to neighbouring villages.

The partnership has also seen the installation of a new solar-powered off-grid bakery, which supplies villagers and provides a successful business opportunity for the community.

“More recently, Schneider Electric has been working alongside UJ to make use of the Schneider Electric Solar Variable Speed Drive technology to support the installation of a cold storage facility for the village, introducing a modern-day convenience to the village we would normally take for granted,” head of sustainable development for Schneider Electric SA Zanelle Dalglish said.

Malaria cases in the area have reduced significantly as residents no longer need to walk to the river -- a high risk area -- to fetch water.

Households were also supplied with solar lamps, especially suited for the demanding rural environment, ensuring children are able to complete their homework at night.

“Paraffin lamps and candles were the primary sources of lighting for the village before our donation of solar lights, which now provide a safe lighting alternative and an opportunity for cell phone charging," Dalglish said.

"Solar streetlights were also installed to provide light in the pitch-dark evenings, and to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the project, entrepreneurs from the village have been trained to sell and maintain our solar-powered portable LED lamps."

With a presence in over 100 countries, Schneider works in power management, providing integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. 

- African News Agency (ANA)