Solar-Powered Community Radio!

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Feature story - July 11, 2012
Today Greenpeace launched Africa's first solar-powered radio station in Oshwe, in the DRC. Hundreds of community members and leaders came out to witness the event. Authorities applauded efforts to increase this remote community’s access to basic information.

To overcome the challenge of on-again-off-again fuel supply, Greenpeace and the community of Oshwe decided a few months ago to equip the radio station with solar energy.

A clean and stable energy supply, the solar panels would allow uninterrupted broadcasting.

Speaking from the launch, Loan Tran Thanh, Greenpeace's DRC Country Manager said this was "a perfect example of the renewable energy opportunities that are a solution for communities like this."

In addition to the uninterrupted power supply, the antenna of the radio station was also raised, making it possible for broadcasts to reach other villages within a 100km radius, giving many more forest communities access to the vital news and information.

The day before the launch of solar radio, local villagers could be seen, radio glued to their ears, trying to catch the frequency that our engineers were fine-tuning. People were so eager to get the signal, and when they caught it, they would shout to each other " I got it! I got it!" 

Like many other parts of the Congo Forest Basin, the Oshwe region is very remote, and under threat from unscrupulous international logging companies abetted by governments.

"With reliable radio broadcasts, Oshwe communities will finally know what is happening in DRC, and understand the implications of decisions being made in the capital city, Kinshasa, particularly around their resources,” added Tran Thanh.

For the project, we took our SUNiversity to the DRC to train 12 young volunteers to ensure the maintenance of the solar installations in the community. It was an opportunity to empower local youths with marketable skills and run a series of workshops.    

In recent years Greenpeace has reached out to forest communities to explain just how and why they should protect the forest; and understand their rights around the protection of their forests, while suggesting viable and sustainable alternatives to deforestation.

This renewable energy radio station is a momentous step in the work that's been done in the Oshwe region over the past two years.


You can help Greenpeace get the South African government to see the incredible potential of renewable energy by signing up to the Use Me More campaign here.