The Little Sun shines in Zimbabwe

Brothers do their homework using the Little Sun lamp, hanging from the chair © Edwin Sithole/Alight Zimbabwe Trust
Brothers do their homework using the Little Sun lamp, hanging from the chair © Edwin Sithole/Alight Zimbabwe Trust

The developers of the Little Sun lamp have partnered with Plan International to pilot the use of their solar-powered LED lamps through sustainable, community-led initiatives in Zimbabwe.

The lamp provides people without electricity clean, affordable lighting allowing them to work, socialise, study, cook, and extend their daily activities into the night without the need for kerosene lamps.

“The light is clean, bright and actually healthy for children who used to develop eye and chest problems as a result of soot from the kerosene lamps they used to use before Little Sun,” says Natsai Mlambo, a teacher at Muumbe Primary School in Chipinge, a town to the east of the country, near the Mozambique border.

Developers of the Little Sun have given the Alight Zimbabwe Trust exclusive distributorship of the lamp in the country. The Trust has some 80 local distributors in rural areas, most of whom benefitted from Plan International’s educational support initiatives.

The Trust has in recent months made rapid progress selling more than 4,000 Little Sun lamps in rural Zimbabwe, as well as building Little Sun shops in Chitungwiza, a town 30 kilometres south of Harare, and in Epworth, a suburb in Harare.

Edwin Sithole, the coordinator of Alight Zimbabwe Trust, says the lamps are not only improving lighting, but have opened up employment opportunities and improved sanitation.

“(Little Sun lamps are) viewed as a solution to end darkness in the most hard-to-reach remote areas. Children were not passing their public examinations because they could not read after sunset due to a lack of proper and affordable light,” he says.

Adds Mr Sithole: “In Chipinge one of our interviewees has confirmed that during the night, people have a tendency of not using the latrines as they are afraid of darkness. They end up using bushes near their houses. With the lamp people are now effectively using their latrines both during the day and at night without any hesitation in the dark.”

Little Sun is a solar-powered LED lamp that was developed by acclaimed Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and solar engineer Frederik Ottesen to get clean light to off-grid communities.

The developers of the lamp are using an innovative pricing system whereby consumers in areas of the world with electricity pay more to purchase the Little Sun lamps, affording rural off-grid communities low prices.

Little Sun GmbH is a social business that is increasing access to clean light in a sustainable way that benefits off-grid communities. The company aims to spread light, safe energy, and profits worldwide.