Thousands in Africa benefit from DHL’s free solar lights

DHL1DHL Express, one of the world’s leading logistics companies, is supporting Little Sun, a solar light company, by moving free of freight charges, 4,000 lamps to Ethiopia and South Africa from Germany as part of Deutsche Post DHL’s activities around the United Nations World Environment Day.

In a similar move, the courier company has also partnered with Solar without Borders, a Belgian non-profit organisation to get light to some countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

After executing all kinds of solar projects from Guatemala to Mongolia, Solar without Borders have combined their expertise and developed the ‘Solar Kiosk’, a central solar installation per village where 100 self-developed solar lamps can be charged.

Explaining the motivation for the project, Gilles Loobuyck, the project manager in Sierra Leone said; “In this way we want to provide the most vulnerable people with decent, affordable and environmentally-friendly lighting.”

“After offering local training, the solar system and solar lamps can be made locally. Beside ‘getting people out of the dark’, Solar without Borders aims to encourage the transfer of knowledge, create employment and stimulate entrepreneurship,” Loobuyck stated further.

For his part, Sumesh Rahavendra, Head of Marketing for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “Giving back to the African communities is not just a slogan for us at DHL Express, both Little Sun and Solar without Borders have great products that they are looking to distribute across Africa. Incidentally, international express distribution is what we do best; a great marriage of a product and service to benefit the communities we serve.”

According to him, “Studies by organisations including the United Nations indicate that over 1.6 billion people still don’t have access to light; 30% of who live in Africa.”

The DHL Express Head of Marketing opines that “Using solar powered technology to give these people access to light is not just sustainable but also healthy, compared to conventional fuel sources.”

“We have therefore partnered with two ‘light-giving organisations’ – Little Sun and Solar without Borders – on a pro-bono basis to provide much-needed solar-powered light to people in Sub Saharan Africa,” he added.

Also commenting on the partnership to send light to the vulnerable across Africa,  Felix Hallwachs, CEO of the project said, “To date Little Sun runs active projects in six African countries, and pilot projects are under way across Africa and in South East Asia.”

“Together with our partners we have brought 25,000 solar lamps to users in Africa, in a trade-not-aid system that empowers all participants,” he disclosed, while admitting, “Working with DHL is an opportunity to engage a strong and large partner into the Little Sun network, supporting the beginning of further distribution projects. DHL is contributing to kick-starting long-term sustainable development opportunities.”

Little Sun is a social business that produces Little Sun lamps and distributes them worldwide by establishing sustainable trade routes, allowing off-grid distributors to make a profit while bringing light to local users.

On the other hand, DHL, a global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and about 285,000 employees worldwide, says it offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their supply chain requirements.

The courier company, which is considered the global market leader in the logistics industry, also accepts its social responsibility by supporting environmental protection, disaster management and education.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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