Solar Power for Schools in South Sudan

When we began thinking about ways to offer assistance in South Sudan, the list was enormous. In fact, over-whelming. Where do you begin in a place that has only recently concluded a 20+ year civil war and then become the newest country in the world?

Early on, when we learned that—within the borders of the entire country of South Sudan—there is no power grid whatsoever, we were stopped dead in our tracks. No power grid in the entire country?

The reality was this: while South Sudan was a part of what was then known as Sudan, the government in Khartoum neglected—on purpose—to make any investments for infrastructure in the South. That included such things as a power grid.

As a result, today you either must have the funds to own a very expensive dieselpowered generator or you are stuck with a kerosene lamp. Take your pick. That’s essentially it. And, diesel fuel in South Sudan exceeds $7 US/gallon.

With that new knowledge, we began asking about the feasibility of installing solar energy systems atop schools, in an effort to bring basic lighting into the classrooms. However, as the conversation expanded. we realized that—with solar power and battery backup—we could also contemplate something else: computers. Assuming that broadband internet exists, and having power at a school, the potential to connect any school in South Sudan with SkySong—Arizona State University’s distance learning platform—would allow us to bring that school into the 21st century. And, do away with their books from the 1940’s and 1950’s.

In a nutshell, what you have just-now read is the essence of this portion of our focus in South Sudan.