Maasai women are the new solar warriors of Africa

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The Maasai are a semi-nomadic pastoral tribe spread across Kenya and Tanzania, and globalization has not been kind to them. Vulnerable to wildlife that steal their livestock and powerless after the sun goes down, many Maasai often have to walk many kilometers just to charge their phones. But a new project spearheaded by Green Energy Africa has brought solar energy to 2,000 homes in Naiputa county alone, and put new power into the hands of women who sell affordable solar installations.

Green Energy Africa started the 7-month Women Entrepreneurship in Renewable Energy Project (WEREP) in September 2014 with a goal “promote inclusive participation of women and youth in development through solar energy” while bringing much needed energy to people living in Kenya’s Kajiado and Makueni counties.

The group reports only 23 percent of Kenyans have access to the national electricity grid, while only 5 percent of rural communities are connected. To make up for this energy shortfall, people like Jackline Naiputa, who was featured in a Reuters story about the program, have to rely on expensive kerosene or cut down trees for fuel.

Naiputa heads the Osopuko-Edonyinap group, one of the five women’s groups who purchase solar installations from Green Energy Africa at a discount and then transport them by donkey across villages and sell them for a 300 Kenyan Shillings or $3 profit. The proceeds are then stored in a fund which is used to purchase more solar panels, batteries and lights.

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