The days of sleeping early due to the non-availability of electricity in some parts of rural Mali are over, thanks to an intervention from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Some 1,500 households are now able to turn on the light at night in Kidal, in northern Mali as a result of the $50,000 project funded by MINUSMA.
Kidal has been caught up in a raging battle between Tuareg rebels and government forces for some years now making it increasingly difficult for them to have access to services like electricity.
Mali’s electricity is produced from a shared dam on the River Senegal which also produces power for neighbouring countries including Senegal and Mauritania.
Local NGO, AFORD (Association for Training, Research and Development) has been roped into a 6-month lighting project to help Malians in rural areas benefit from the solar project as about half of Malians live on less than $2 a day.
“This project has distributed solar kits to populations in need to allow people to light their homes and it allows children to study at home now that they get electricity service in Kidal,” said Mohamed Aly Ag Albessaty, president of AFORD.
Beneficiaries of the project say it has changed their lives.
Assikaday Ag Wayerzagane a local chief said: “The families that have benefited from these kits are very happy, not only because they have left the darkness behind, but it has also helped people in many ways, especially in families where there are children, the kits have allowed children to study in the evenings and women to continue their activities at night.”
The Malian government which has been trying to promote renewable energy technologies since 2007 has said it is building two large-scale solar power plants to feed into the national grid, this is expected to reduce the country’s dependency on fossil fuels.