A brighter future | Global Ideas | DW | 06.03.2012
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Global Ideas

A brighter future

Battery-powered lights charged by pedaling on a bicycle-like device are lighting up rural Rwanda.

Watch video 06:32

Electricity from Muscle Power in Rwanda

Project goal: Affordable lighting solutions for rural communities in Rwanda
Project scale: 15,000 LED lights, supervised by 140 small businessmen and women (with the goal of 1.8 million lights by 2016)
Carbon savings: 6,700 tons (aiming for 800,000 tons by 2016)
Cost savings: one household saves $72 a year per LED light

For rural communities living in Rwanda, battery-powered LED lights have opened the door to countless possibilities: from fishing at night and collecting honey to studying for school, even after dark. The villages are not connected to the electricity grid, and in the past, residents were limited in what they could do and when. They depended on kerosene lamps, which are dangerous to human health and damaging to the environment. The LED lights depend on a source of energy far older than any in use today: manpower. It takes just 20 minutes of pedaling on a device similar to a bicycle to charge one light. It takes some sweat and hard work, but the result is superior to any other solution. Unlike solar lamps, LED’s still work when it’s cloudy or at night. The project portends a bright future for the region because the pedal-powered lights also offers new economic opportunities.

A film by Carl Gierstorfer

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