“The communities that we live in are a critical part of our identity, and they should be safe spaces where we can find refuge”

Press release - June 30, 2017
Johannesburg, 30 June 2017: In collaboration with the Philile Foundation [1], Greenpeace Africa’s recently launched campaign Project Sunshine seeks to raise R100 000 from mid-June to mid-July to install solar streetlights around a crèche [2] in Diepsloot.

Project Sunshine is a crowdfunded initiative and at midpoint the project has already raised over R30 000. With just two weeks left to meet the target, Greenpeace is calling on all South Africans to play a role in bringing light to underprivileged, off-grid communities by visiting and supporting the crowdfunding platform.

Electricity supply remains a national problem - with the majority of South Africa’s electricity coming from highly polluting coal. Meanwhile, electricity access for off-grid communities is a critical issue that is often overlooked. Greenpeace Africa has chosen to be part of the solution, and through this project, is offering South Africans the opportunity to participate in assisting electricity poor communities. The current grid simply bypasses an estimated 10% of South Africans, and for those who are connected to the grid, being able to afford electricity becomes a new challenge. 

“It feels like South Africa is a country at war with itself at the moment, with poverty, crises and scandals around every corner. Most of us can relate to walking down a dark street at night and feeling unsafe. Solar streetlights can contribute towards safer streets and the fight against crime” said Nhlanhla Sibisi, Greenpeace Africa Climate and Energy Campaigner. 

Despite the widespread crime and service delivery protests in South Africa, City Power has actively blocked this project for years. Local authorities in Johannesburg have also acted as a barrier to using solar energy for the electrification of off-grid communities. In 2015, Greenpeace Africa had aimed to complete this project on a much larger scale, but after years of trying to get permission from numerous City Power authorities, the project was finally downscaled. 

“As far as Greenpeace Africa is concerned, this seems to simply indicate that City Power is threatened by a project that aims to deliver street lighting when they have no plans to electrify parts of Diepsloot for years to come” said Melita Steele, Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Africa. 

“Our current electricity system is dysfunctional, and innovative solutions like solar streetlights should be the way of the future. This is a solution that could and should be replicated by municipalities across the country,” added Steele.

For South Africa to effectively meet its energy needs, barriers to renewable energy must be removed, and there needs to be a greater focus on decentralised renewable energy solutions, for those still not connected to the national grid. 

NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

  1. The Philile Foundation is a non-profit organisation that aims to transform the lives of children and disadvantaged communities in South Africa, through providing quality Early Childhood Development. 
  2. The crèche is the Diepsloot Early Childhood Development Centre serves the Diepsloot community in providing quality pre-school education for children, giving them a fighting chance for a bright future.