I just came across these videos on grassroots solar electrification projects in Africa and India. Trained in India for 6 months, local women return home with the skills and materials needed to electrify their own villages. They are what is known as Barefoot Solar Engineers, and are part of a larger program run by by the Barefoot College in India.
"Any illiterate woman - including women who have never left their villages - from any part of Africa can be trained to be a confident and compitent solar engineer."
These are largely illiterate women, grandmothers often, who can do work most people would have though impossible. Buying kerosean in little quanties at a time, poor communities like these spend a much bigger proportion of their income on energy than their wealthier neighbours. By installing renewables these women free up both the time and money that would otherwise have gone to getting fuel, and give their communities the independance that comes from managing their own energy supplies.
The first video travels from Gambia to Tanzania to look at the Barefoot College's solar electrification programs across Africa. I thought their argument for training women rather than men was particularly intersting: After being trained, women return to their villages and use their skills to increase the community's living conditions. Men, by contrast, generally leave for the city to try to turn their new credentials into a paying job.
Earlier posts on renewable energy and energy poverty here. And two related videos from specific communities after the jump.