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PLAN International provides 5,000 solar lamps

…trains 45 youth as sales agents

May 5, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

PLAN International Wednesday trained 45 youth who have been tasked to sell 5,000 solar lamps to communities in rural areas.

The youth were selected from Port Loko and Kailahun districts and the Western Area.

According to Casely Ato Coleman, Country Director of PLAN International in Sierra Leone, the livelihood project is one of the key pillars of PLAN Sierra Leone’s post Ebola recovery strategy.

In partnership with PLAN Demark, he noted, PLAN Sierra Leone will be providing employment for youth through the sale of natural lights project, adding that “the youth will sell 5,000 solar lamps as a pilot and we hope to scale this up to cover 1000 youth who will sell 50,000 solar lamps.”

He said his organisation has supported the Ministry of Youth Affairs in several ways, including the provision of vehicular support for field monitoring with a brand new Toyota hilux, payment of monthly allowance to a consultant at the Youth Ministry for a year, support to the National Youth Farm at Masiaka, among others.

“We also did the development of a documentary on the farm as well as the development of electronic map of the farm, provide support to pay labourers and administrative workers, conduct gender training for over 100 young people, including women,” he said.

He said that PLAN also provided irrigation support of three boreholes fitted with pumps and six water tank towers and planting materials and assorted locally made tools to the farm.

The PLAN Country Director revealed that they have also funded an environmental impact assessment and baseline survey of the National Youth farm, adding that they also supported the Kailahun District Youth Council cassava processing project.

He disclosed that the solar light was manufactured by a German owned solar energy company, for sale in Europe and all over the world.

Sierra Leone is the twelfth country in Africa that the lights have been put on sale, with a view to provide employment for youth and benefit users in accessing renewable and sustainable source of light for multiple purposes, he said.

“The trained sales agents will be organised into an entrepreneur groups with an account where the proceeds deposited and 20% as their tokens on each light sold,” he explained.

Minister of Youth Affairs, Bai Mahmoud Bangura, paid tribute to PLAN International as a key contributor to the achievement of the Agenda for Prosperity. He added that PLAN has supported youths in skills training and capacity building.

“Training the youth to be business people is good because no government will provide jobs for its entire people in the country. To the beneficiaries, you should be able to demonstrate the wiliness in order for the project to succeed,” he said.

Sales Manager for West Africa, Little Sun Company, Samuel Dansette, said the 5,000 solar lamps that PLAN has donated to the project would be sold and proceeds used to promote youth activities.

“These solar lamps will create opportunity for students to study at night especially in areas that have no electricity supply. They will replace the normal torch lights that use lot of batteries per month. If they are well charged, they will serve for two days,” he said.

Edius Makono, Director of Alight Zimbabwe, said some 1,500 solar lamps sell every day in Zimbabwe, adding that the Little Sun Company solar lamps have three social impacts – safe light to communities, creating employment and building business skills.

“In Europe these lamps sell in shop, but in Africa they are sold from door-to-door. This is a very lucrative business that youth should embark on,” he encouraged.

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