Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday (April 30) launched the first phase of a project to provide 5000 solar lamps across the country.
The pilot project will serve seven constituencies across the Corporate Area in the first instance.
The lamps are aimed at reducing open flame fires in households. These fires have resulted in more than 125 deaths of adults and children since 2013, in a number of vulnerable communities across the island.
“This is only one of hundreds of solutions; this programme is not the entirety of the government’s response. This is the start. This is going to be the pilot and so we have selected seven constituencies within the urban area where we would be better able to quickly identify households that are in need and to provide necessary support services not just the solar lamps but the eco-system to make the solar lamps usable,” said Prime Minister Holness.
The constituencies benefiting in the first phase are: East Central St. Andrew, Eastern St. Andrew, East Rural St. Andrew, East Kingston and Port Royal, West Rural St. Andrew, West Central St. Andrew and South St. Andrew.
“It is not just the gift of these solar lamps; the idea is that we need to create an end to end solution. So this is just a small part of the solution, so we have to build an eco-system now that involves training our young people to have these bulbs delivered to ensure that the mother who might see this as outside of her culture to actually have her understand that this bulb gives a brighter light than open flame source, that it lasts longer than open flame source, that it is safer and cheaper,” stated Mr. Holness.
Mr. Holness underscored that the social enterprise aspect is critical which could result in a booming industry.
“It is not just giving the solar lanterns, it is about educating people how to use it and then build a parallel system to support its use and that to me is a very good task to give to a youth energy core which we are about to form under the HOPE programme. You could actually now start a booming industry in supply and repair and use of solar lamps,” said Prime Minister Holness.
The solar lamps were acquired at a cost of US $4000.