The mission of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is to provide solar power and wireless communications to a quarter of the world's population living in energy poverty .
SELF believes that energy is a human right. To meet global challenges such as food and water scarcity, climate change and poverty, SELF is working to assign greater priority to the importance of sustainable energy among international development banks, aid agencies, foundations, and philanthropic individuals, who are committed to improving the health, education, and economic prospects of the world's poorest citizens.
Background/History: "Solar energy, when coupled with wireless communications, will enable rural and remote people around the globe to maintain their close communal ties with each other and with nature while still being connected to the rest of the planet. As the most decentralized and versatile of all energy conversion devices, photovoltaic technology paves the way for a truly global village in which the center is everywhere." - Robert A. Freling, Executive Director, SELF
Two billion people attempting to emerge from centuries of darkness into an electrically lighted future will be one of the critical issues of the 21st century. Developing countries will produce the largest increase in greenhouse gas emissions. But for millions of people, there is a non-polluting way to get electricity - from the sun!
Solar electricity is the only proven sustainable means of meeting the electric power needs of the widely dispersed rural population of the developing world.
Seventy percent of people in the developing world still have no access to electricity in their homes, health clinics, or schools, and are completely isolated from the modern world's wealth of resources. Kerosene lamps, candles, and dry cell batteries are used for home lighting and radios. Health clinics have no means to power refrigerators necessary for vaccine and other drug preservation, and health care workers have limited access to modern medical knowledge and research. Children in village schools spend hours hand-copying notes off of chalk boards because their schools have no photocopiers; and without computers, these kids are trapped in the digital divide of information haves and have-nots.
Instead of waiting for the electric grid and telephone landlines, which may never come, rural communities can connect to the world today, thanks to a combination of solar power and wireless communications.
Acting as a catalyst, SELF provides technical and financial assistance for solar energy and wireless communication systems in the developing world. SELF has launched solar rural electrification programs and enterprises in India, China, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Nepal, South Africa, Brazil, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Lesotho, Nigeria, Benin, Bhutan and the Solomon Islands.