Wifi enabled solar street lights for Witsand: MoU signed between Think WiFi and GreenCape
  Feb 26, 2020     News, Atlantis, GreenCape, energy, renewable, greentech, Green Tech, Solar PV, Cape Town

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today between Think WiFi and GreenCape to deliver wifi enabled solar street lights in Witsand, Atlantis.

 

MoU signed ASDU v2

 

Directly linked to GreenCape’s vision for a thriving prosperous Africa mobilised by the green economy, the Alternative Service Delivery Unit (ASDU) vision is equal and unhindered access, for all South Africans, to an open, technically sound, socially inclusive and commercially resilient energy economy.

Traditional models for off-grid electrification have struggled to be replicated across different geographies, especially in South Africa. The ASDU has been established by GreenCape to design, facilitate and manage the provision of energy services to unserviced and unserviceable communities, on behalf of relevant stakeholders. ASDU applies an adaptive co-design framework to facilitate community led energy provision.

“ASDU is driving the rapid provision of reliable, affordable and safe energy innovations to address basic needs, drive social development and create jobs,” said Alderman James Vos, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, who was present to witness the signing of the MOU at GreenCape. “ASDU builds the foundation for accelerated socio-economic development and turns the current lack of infrastructure into an opportunity for empowerment,” he added.

ASDU’s electrification approach is built to allow for increased stakeholder buy-in, by providing stakeholders with a collective space to re-imagine energy provision solutions in new and innovative ways. Together with key stakeholders, the ASDU team designs and adapts the process of electrification in close collaboration with existing local community organisations, academia, government and industry.

“This multi-stakeholder cooperation allows for the culture of participation to develop, giving owners of the social challenge control over how technical systems are used, and which functionality underlies the usage of these systems,” said Jack Radmore, Energy Programme Manager at GreenCape.

The partnership with Think WiFi originated after ASDU enumerated more than 2 500 households in the Witsand informal settlement. This was done with a focus on creating a strong social foundation for service delivery, building an inclusive platform for local community members to express infrastructure preferences, and to understand the communities’ propensity to pay for infrastructure services while also mapping existing infrastructure assets. From this process, the Witsand community prioritised area lighting and connectivity as their most pressing energy related needs.

“We are excited to partner with GreenCape to help solve some of the connectivity and lighting challenges in the areas we operate in. To date we have deployed more than 50 of the solar lights around our wifi Hotspots, and will continue to roll this project out in existing areas as well as install more lights in new areas, like Witsand,” said Janine Rebelo, CEO of Think WiFi. "These solar lights, or lollipops as they are called, not only provide area lighting, they also enhance safety and security in the surrounding area.  We have found that combining our lighting Lollipops with wifi greatly improves conditions in an area and has created a demand for these services, especially with the current load shedding challenges in South Africa. We have also seen micro-business start to evolve around these Think light stations, which enable the them to stay open after hours, furthering our vision to create local economic empowerment opportunities in the communities we serve," she added. 

The MoU also outlines that there will be continued collaboration on new sites to explore the overlap of energy services and connectivity, in this case the provision of public wifi infrastructure. “As GreenCape (ASDU) and Think WiFi enter and explore new areas and communities, we want to collaborate further on community engagement, the provision of electricity services (ASDU) and wifi infrastructure (Think WiFi) were relevant,” said Radmore.

“Access to energy is a prerequisite of human development and with ASDU now driving energy provision in each of these areas there is the potential to increase in-home education, create meaningful employment, reduce unsafe and illegal connections and build a safe and united community,” said Vos.

Over the past three years, GreenCape has launched and funded three ASDU sites, with interventions ranging from wifi enabled solar street lights to home solar systems and microgrids. These three sites cover approximately 6 000 homes and ~16 800 people.