The launch of a smart solar street lamp assembly line in Bamako, Mali, is a major step in the development of the solar industry in Africa. This joint initiative by Solektra International and Sunna Design should help create jobs and bring light to areas without access to a power grid.
A decade ago, Akon was mainly known for his hits “Lonely” and “I Wanna Love You”. Nowadays, the Senegalese American is in the spotlight for a different reason: he wants to bring power to millions of Africans by using solar energy. His Akon Lighting Africa initiative operates in 15 countries and has already distributed 102,000 solar domestic kits and created 5,500 indirect jobs.
Last week, the RnB singer was in Bamako, the capital of Mali, for the launch of a one of a kind plant. It is a smart solar street lamp assembly line, the result of a partnership between Solektra International (co-founded by Akon) and Sunna Design.
Sunna Design is a French company that designs LED solar lamps fit for the extreme weather conditions found in some African countries. The batteries can resist extremely high temperatures and the lamps function with a smart system which self-manages to only provide light when necessary. The lamps also collect data on their surrounding which can be monitored in real time. This fits via the long-term goal of Sunna Design to help develop smart, sustainable cities in Africa.
The components will continue to be built in France, but the lamps will be assembled in the new plant in Mali. This will create jobs as well as provide the locals with the opportunity to acquire new technical skills. Once completed, the solar street lamps will be distributed to various African countries where they will provide light without a power grid. Samba Bathily, Solektra's CEO:
“Products, training and manufacturing: Solektra has a 360° approach, as our objective is to contribute to the development of a genuine solar industry in Africa. Sunna Design’s solar street lighting technology is the only one to resist most extreme temperatures like those of our regions. The new assembly line is an asset; we can now transform Mali into a new ‘hub’, capable of supplying all African countries with very diverse and top quality solar equipment.”
The plant will be operational in Feburary 2017 and employ 30 people. Solektra and Sunna Design plan to open similar plants in other African countries.