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This photo taken on July 23, 2023, shows a grocery store powered by solar energy in a village in Lusaka, Zambia. (Photo by Lillian Banda/Xinhua) Access to clean and reliable energy such as solar has slowed the pace for people in Zambia to leave the countryside.

Solar energy improves lives in rural Zambia

By Xinhua

LUSAKA, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- In some parts of rural Zambia, especially remote ones off the national grid, access to electricity remains a luxury.Things are beginning to change for the better thanks to solar energy use in rural communities, improving the academic performance of students, who can now study even in the evenings, and enabling crop cultivation to go on all year round, courtesy of solar-powered irrigation equipment.
A farmer waters plants using solar-powered irrigation equipment in 
Chibombo district, central Zambia, July 24, 2023. (Photo by Lillian 
Banda/Xinhua)In addition, access to solar energy has also increased business opportunities and made rural areas more attractive for people to live in.Some rural dwellers have bought solar kits that often consist of lighting equipment, solar panels, batteries and a radio set. There are kits that also come with a TV set. The cost of solar kits depends on the capacity and size of the panels -- a small startup solar kit costs about 2,000 Zambian Kwacha (about 107 U.S. dollars).For
 Ketiwe Mapenda, a resident of Mwalubemba, a village in the Chongwe 
district of eastern Lusaka Province, life has improved significantly 
since her family invested in a solar kit."Solar
 power has brightened our nights. My children are able to study even at 
night, and I can cook and carry out other chores after sunset," said the 38-year-old mother of three. People in the village used to rely on kerosene lamps and candles for lighting. Now they can turn to clean and reliable solar energy."It has also reduced incidences of houses catching fire and burning down as a result of mishaps in the use of kerosene and candles," Mapenda said.The benefits of solar energy extend beyond basic lighting needs. It has enabled the installation of refrigeration systems, transforming the way villagers store food and helping small businesses thrive."We used to lose a lot of food due to lack of refrigeration," says Peter Mwila, who runs a grocery store in Namayani Village, west of Lusaka, the Zambian capital.Mwila,
 34, said having solar-powered refrigerators has increased traffic to 
his shop and propelled his business to greater heights.
This photo taken on July 23, 2023, shows an interior view of a grocery store powered by solar energy in a village in Lusaka, Zambia. (Photo by 
Lillian Banda/Xinhua)"Sales have increased drastically since I got a refrigerator," he said. "I have a lot of customers coming through to buy cold beverages and meat and products which I only started stocking after buying stock refrigerators."And John Banda, 21, a small-scale farmer based in Chibombo district, central Zambia, can now have his phone charged, enabling him to get more opportunities in the agriculture sector."I no longer have to miss out on opportunities to market or sell farm  produce because of lack of reliable means of communication, all thanks to the solar kit," he said.Access to clean and reliable energy such as solar has also slowed the pace for people to leave the countryside."People move to towns so that they can watch TV and be able to see streetlights. But villages now have those things in place, all thanks to solar energy," said 43-year-old Mable Mbewe, a resident of Mumbwa district.  ■
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