Partnership League for Africa’s Development (PLAD) and Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) have been teaming up with solar energy expert, Dr. Richard Komp, to help spread the word on promising ways to open up solar power for millions on the African continent.
At a recent event held at the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office, Dr. Komp briefed dignitaries, African media and members of the African diaspora on this possibility, sparking great interest and kicking off months of new activity. Dr. Komp, using discoveries and innovations he developed, has been able to assist individuals and communities with no previous access to electricity to learn how to harness solar power to light and power their homes and businesses. With just the building materials they can find in their own backyards and open air markets, they can completely transform their lives.
According to World Energy Outlook (WEO), in 2013, more than 20% of the world’s population—over 1.2 billion people worldwide—were still without access to electricity, nearly all in developing countries. According to the World Bank’s website, universal access to electricity in the next 20 years would require annual investments of $35-$40 billion. And yet, Africa’s greatest potential energy source – the sun – scorches the continent daily.
Dr. Komp, who has been working in the solar energy field for over 50 years, has taught the people of small villages in South Africa, Mali, Rwanda, Niger, Ghana, Colombia, Haiti, Chile, Pakistan, Nicaragua and India every step of the process of harnessing that energy—newly lighting homes, schools, churches and hospitals—at incredibly low cost and without the need for massive industrialization, the laying of wires or other costly and, in some remote areas, impossible requirements. Dr. Komp explains that solar energy is environmentally friendly, cost effective and simple, and he is dedicated to proving that energy is not only for those already with means, but for everyone.
“I will help anyone for free who makes less than $2 a day,” Dr. Komp announced, alluding to the people in developing nations with whom he has worked. He has taught individuals innovative ways to build solar panels using cells from solar companies no longer in business in the United States and local materials in those developing countries. And he has taught them how to construct and repair the existing solar panels, making the individuals entirely self-reliant. They can then transfer that knowledge to future generations, building capacity in renewable energy. Dr. Komp constructed his own home in Harrington, Maine, all with solar energy technology, which has provided him free electricity for over 32 years. The home serves as the headquarters for the non-profit, Skyheat Associates, of which Dr. Komp is co-founder and director.
Both Youth for Human Rights International and PLAD believe that access to energy is a basic human right. Solar capacity building is one way of empowering unemployed African youth with a technical skill that will enable them to make a living out of an honorable trade and not fall victim to extremist groups.
Furthermore, by being able to construct solar panels on demand, and of varying sizes, based on need and affordability, this activity will provide power to light at least one light bulb per poor family, allowing children to do homework after nightfall; and enable merchants, especially, woman entrepreneurs and traders to have access to energy, allowing them to safely open their shops at night to sell their goods.
PLAD is a grass-roots organization founded by Ms. Binta Terrier, economist and International Monetary Fund Senior Research Analyst. Ms. Terrier saw the need for the African diaspora and friends of Africa to come together to help address the systemic human right issues in Africa. PLAD believes that human rights issues can be best addressed by improving social development through good governance, rule of law and democracy. The cornerstones of their strategy are education, health, agriculture and the environment.
Youth for Human Rights International is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, an educator born and raised in apartheid South Africa, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of discrimination and the lack of basic human rights. The purpose of YHRI is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. YHRI accomplishes this through simple yet empowering, high-quality human rights education materials for youth, teachers and officials in 17 languages.
About the Author: Binta Terrier | Founder/Executive Director, Partnership League for Africa’s Development (PLAD) – Ms. Terrier is Founder and Executive Director of Partnership League for Africa’s Development (PLAD) and Africa Syndicate Blog. She saw the need for the African Diaspora worldwide and friends of Africa to come together and form an African organization that would partner with other organizations, associations, NGOs, foundations, institutions and civil societies in Africa and, collaborate with the African Union to help address the systemic human right issues in Africa.
Under her initiative, PLAD was created in 2011 to focus on education, health, agriculture, Capacity Building and Youth Employment, as the cornerstone to address the human rights problem in Africa for an inclusive economic development to prevail. In January 2016, she created the Africa Syndicate Blog, an educational platform to share historic, social, and economic development opinions on Africa and its people.
Ms. Terrier has a bachelor’s degree (BA) in Economics from the George Washington University, Master of Art (MA) in Applied Economics from the American University, and did her post- graduate work (PhD) in Economics at AU in Washington, D.C. She works as a Senior Research Analyst for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, D.C.
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