MALI, Timbuktu – NCA had started a solar project in villages in Timbuktu region, where illiterate women were selected and trained in India as solar engineers. The villages had also received solar equipment from India. The women were able to do the maintenance on these systems, but spare parts could not be found on the local Malian market. When the life-cycle of the solar batteries ended after 3-4 years, there was no money to buy a replacement. So how to make this project more sustainable?
Instead of continuing to receive solar systems from India, the villagers selected high quality solar systems from Malian solar retailers. NCA paid for these systems, and asked all villagers to pay a one-off fee when receiving the system and a monthly contribution. These amounts were saved by the villagers so they could pay for new batteries when their life-cycle was finished.
The life-cycle of solar panels is about 15-20 years, and so with this new set-up the sustainability of the project increased from 3-4 years to 15-20 years.