In Agome-Sevah, a village in the southeast of Togo, farmers are now smiling and hope to rise out of poverty due to solar electricity installed in the entire village by four illiterate women.
Adjoa Amegbleame, 38 and mother of seven, was singing and filled with enthusiasm selling doughnuts to a customer. “I am making more profit. Selling my doughnut now in the night has become a fact of my life. Now I can settle here every night and not have to fight anymore against the wind, which in the past used to blow and threaten to extinguish the lantern I used as a light.”
Amegleame, like many others in Agome-Sevah, now has electricity and feels secure when selling her products late in the night. Two years ago, life was really tough in the village. There was no electricity. The whole village was living in darkness and was not connected to the public electricity grid. The main sources of energy used were wood and charcoal for cooking and oil for lighting. Sourcing raw materials to produce energy is an increasingly important expense item in the household budget. As a result, the potential for economic activity is reduced, reinforcing the precariousness of the village inhabitants and pushing young people to leave.
A maize farmer in the village said “we can now charge our phones at home. And my wife is no longer setting off for miles to grind millet or grill corn.” This situation has been made possible by a local association named Dekamile, association which has implemented a solar energy electrification project across the whole village.
The association sent four illiterate women to India for six months training in solar electrification. In September 2016, “on their return, we ordered solar components and when this equipment reached Agome-Sevah, the four women engineers installed them on each household. 153 households in total are covered today,” said Dethanou Logossou, the general secretary of Dekamile Association.
These women have changed the living conditions of the 1500 inhabitants representing the population of Agome Sevah. Today, these installations enable 175 households to have light at night from a clean, renewable source of energy, and to reduce the cost of purchasing kerosene.
The solar electrification project of Agome-Sevah, while contributing to the fight against climate change, has allowed the creation of a source of income, mainly for 4 women who can charge for the installation and maintenance costs of the equipment. The development of nocturnal economic activities in the village is also of note, such as the opening of grocery stores, and the sale of donuts and agricultural products at night. Lighting has also increased safety at night, improved general sanitary conditions, education, health and care and generally improved working conditions in the village.
For Adjoa Amegbleame, there’s no doubt that solar energy has empowered her business and completely changed her life. “Now I have a lot of money to supply my family’s needs and to pay the children’s school fees.”
Kossi Elom Balao is the editor-in-chief and CEO of AfricaWeb, an independent journalism company dedicated to in-depth reporting and high-quality investigative journalism about the issues that matter most to Africans. Kossi writes about science, environment, energy, technology and climate change issues and is also deeply interested in issues facing farmers in rural areas. Kossi is one of the winners of the Voice of a Brighter Future journalism competition organised by the UN-OHRLLS. Voices of a Brighter Future called on journalists from least developed countries to submit inspiring stories on how sustainable energy positively impacts communities and individuals in their countries. You can find all their stories in this online publication.