The IncluderEpisode 11$100 Solar Project

    by Andrius Kulikauskas
    November 21, 2008

    Do you ever have an extra day? or a day’s wage? A denarius, as in Roman days? A Sunday or twelve hours of sun spread out over a year?

    The Includer is a human-sized device, the product of a human-sized economy, the sum of working one day at a time.


    Jackton Arija was the spark for the day in question.  We met him through Samwel Kongere (of Episode 0) and their work to prevent malaria.  Suddenly, with the post-election turmoil in Kenya, we came together to save Jackton and his family:


    January 3, 2008:
    As Sam has said there is no food, no transport and no money and
    medication.  Right now as speak we dont have food and i am just in the
    house with my kids boiling hot water and putting some remaining sugar
    on it for the kids.

    January 6, 2008: I thank you all making all efforts for me to have food in my house, Ken Owino sent airtime of Ksh 1500 and Dennis also sent me airtime of ksh750.  I managed to sell and use to buy food in my house and my neighbour who was also lacking food.

    On January 8th, Graham Knight donated $100 to our Pyramid of Peace to avert genocide in Kenya.  I hoped that Graham might add his life’s passion!

    Hi Ricardo,
    As you may have seen, I’m into low cost solar pv including the
    recharging of batteries. It can be done very cheaply. Have a look at biodesign.webeden.co.uk and come back with queries.

    Meanwhile, Jackton was delivering food.

    January 11, 2008:
    we went to Kendu-bay to give out some food for those who were stuck at
    the police station… Tomorrow we will be going to Oyugis to give out
    some food for others who are stuck at Police station

    Then one day we got a letter from Peter Ongele.

    February 13, 2008:
    I came to know this man called Arija. he introduced to me and what he
    is doing in the moment …  so many who realised that I came from the
    sides of Sindo and Gwasi highland flocked to have possible assistance
    of which i could not offer at that time. This man Jactone really helped
    a lot by advising and organised convenient transport and things became
    easy for me.

    When Peter turned to us for help…

    June 4, 2008:
    After my high school I’ve worked for several NGOs in both risky and
    good conditions but this has been on very low pay due to lack of a
    certificate course. Occationally I’ve tried to raise money to have a
    course in Diploma but all has been not on my side. Last year I got one
    for 3 years on inservice study on Community Health and HIV/AIDS
    management. I’ve to register for assesment and college fee. I’ve to pay
    some money this year between this month of June and July.

    I remembered Graham and the relevance of battery recharging for the Includer

    July 3, 2008:
    Peter and I spoke by phone and then I sent him $200 so that he could
    have the money he needs for his certification course. He agreed to do a
    project for our laboratory, which is to try out the “do it yourself”
    solar mobile phone battery recharging kit which Graham has created.
    $100 is for this work and $100 is for a loan which Peter will repay
    after he gets his certificate, and our lab will relend that money to
    somebody who could apply it well.

    Right away, Peter opened our eyes to rural Kenya:

    July 3, 2008: Peter noted that many people are weak from HIV/AIDS
    and they need alternative work to laboring in the fields. He also notes
    the great need for electricity because, for example, people in his part
    of rural Kenya typically turn off their mobile phones after 6:00 pm
    because they are saving the battery power
    because they have to walk a long ways to recharge their batteries. So
    that means that they are not able to make calls to each other in the
    evening because everybody’s phone is turned off.


    At the time, I was in Burlington, Vermont at Stephen Wolfram’s summer school for A New Kind of Science.  I proposed that our Minciu Sodas laboratory work for him for $200,000 to organize independent thinkers to apply NKS and a culture of investigation
    to a variety of challenges.  I told him of our $100 project with Peter,
    an example of thousands we might organize with thinkers we may never
    meet.  We simply know each other’s values and our willingness to work for free on what we care about.

    I’m encouraged by the ups and downs of Graham’s and Peter’s participation and our efforts together.

    July 20, 2008 Graham: It has long puzzled me why projects using DIY Solar can ‘take off’ in some places but not others… Just how do you persuade people to ‘have a go’?

    November 2008 Graham:
    I had great hopes that we would get somewhere with this as Peter,
    unlike most of my African contacts, is prepared to explain his ideas
    but we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

    November 13, 2008 Andrius:
    You mention that it can take all day to charge a phone (and then I
    think the phone can’t be used). So it seems that one would need an
    extra supply of batteries to make it useful or people would each need
    to have their own solar panel. What are the applications for
    individuals and what are the business possibilities?

    November 16, 2008 Peter:
    I’ve only sold 3 modules…. I take this as a great step, a start for
    people to know that there are small Solar modules of low costs which
    can serve their specific interests before they can raise big moneys to
    the multi purpose Solar Panels. … Since Grahams technology is working
    well,  I see business possibilities and that might be our next project
    if it would be possible to get micro finance support for it.


    By this point, I am thinking hard how to invest my earnings as a math teacher in Bosnia into an economy for the kingdom of heavenPeter Burgess and others are encouraging Peter Ongele’s wish to document the actual use of malaria bed nets.  Graham is happy, too.

    September 25, 2008 Graham: I am delighted to learn of Albert Horowitz’s interest in using the DIY Solar technique in Nepal

    September 30, 2008: Sabrina Jung of Mina Academy in rural Kenya: I am interested too in that solar energy source!

    A lot of light and warmth for $100!

    Tagged: aids economics includer investigation kenya malaria microcredit phone solar

    7 responses to “The IncluderEpisode 11$100 Solar Project”

    1. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mendenyo/message/2175

      Dear Members,

      In recent days there have been several references to DIY Solar so I think it might be useful to say just what is possible – and impossible!

      DIY Solar is a technique to produce the very minimum possible power from tiny pv solar panels to provide enough power for radios, LED lights, etc. It cannot power most computers!

      It requires groups to use the parts sent to assemble units, with local plywood etc,, and then use/sell pv units to start an enterprise. As you will see from Peter Ongele’s replies below to my queries it does need careful thought and good organisation.

      What indications have you already got from previous samples?

      “I’ve seen indication from the few people who have seen them… people need these small Solar panels due to their portability and their affordable prices. Though there is a more need to do a lot of marketing and illustrations of how to use the product which already I’ve two electricians here who are very creative on electrical things and they are really helping me to market and illustrating how the panels can be used effectively by the community.”

      Can people afford an extra $2-3 for an extra battery?

      “Yes, there is that kind of high possibility people to spend extra money on the batteries as back ups whenever they use the Solar Panels. They need to store the solar power to use in the night also. What is the voltage of these batteries compared to 6v and 12v?”

      Most projects fail! Just how this happens is often unknown but very likely where no-one is willing to be as organised as Peter!

      Let me have your postal address and a small sample pack will be on its way!

      Graham Knight
      DIYSolar AT btinternet.com

    2. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/holistichelping/message/3623
      Wendi Loshe Bernadette:

      Dear Graham,
      Thank you immensely for explaining top us what a DIY SOLAR is.We see it to be very useful here for our local communities that do not yet have electricity and many youths, women and men as well in these communities will like to buy the batteries to support if they cost 1 to 2 dollars.Many youths and women in these villages here in Cameroon once taught how to use them will go a long way to practice it and it will solve many rural exodus problems for youths now. We will like to have the sample posted to our address at
      Immense thanks and waiting to hear from you.
      Sincerely Wendi and members.

    3. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mendenyo/message/2174
      From: Samwel Kongere
      Subject: [mendenyo] The year is coming to a close!
      To: [email protected]
      Date: Sunday, November 23, 2008, 8:01 PM

      Samwel Kongere:
      Hello all,
      The year is coming to a close and plannings are

      Peter Ongele:
      Samwel, this a good reminder to everybody to assess, account and lay out future plans or way forward as one family. To some extent Andrius gave us how the MS Lab. have worked for this year and touching almost all activities of the year.

      Samwel Kongere:
      Everyone is planning for a personal growth,
      our intended businesses, projects, research and
      seasons must change to some level of desired growth.

      Peter Ongele:
      I strongly agree with you Samwel, your sentiments is almost the same with Ken Owino’s observations. Yes, if we can move onward on this note, I strongly believe we would get to the bottom of improved life on food security, shelter, health etc.

      Samwel Kongere:
      I am clearly keen and shifting post due to change of leadership focus to families, communities, networks, and projects which can only bring forth to a wonderful success, either to me or my community.Stay focused for own change other than a combined one
      rooted doomshole.

      Peter Ongele:
      Bravo!!! this would be the answer to our grass root problems. I’ve liked this approach, if it can be efficiently implimented.
      Remain strong in faith, where things have gone wrong, develop YES WE CAN, CHANGE OF VISION, and bless the GOOD works of the year. Let us pray for more better things to come next year and God would be on our side of the MS. Lab.
      I pray for all to stay blessed as we near to the closing of the year.

    4. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mendenyo/message/2179

      Thanks Graham, As i had sent you my postal address earlier, i keep watch waiting for the kit to arrive. I have received many parcels before from Andrius, Ricardo, Asif and others. While i wait to get the kit, i am assuaring all that solar power can save minimal expenditures homes as buying of kerosine for house lighting, phone charging, radios and all in these parts where we have plenty of sunshine throughout the year. I hope every interested person will research first and work from that line. Stayed blessed,

    5. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mendenyo/message/2177

      Benoit Couture:

      Salut Samwel, Peter and all,

      As I read your interaction, I am drawn to offer the feedback that you cause within me.

      ..which is that…

      …the work of Minciu Sodas in Africa offers an opportunity to tune in the local-global connectivity that answers the present needs of leadership across the planet.

      We are currently in a time of adjustment which is being forced upon humanity as a whole, because of the conditions of the local and global economies.

      The rich and powerful of the world are now positioned to be receptive and to view the sustainable path and the direction to take to get there…if they are shown!

      In my prayers regarding my Internet activities, I ask:

      “…may we all grow from Minciu Sodas Africa’s ground activities, to become the world wide central focus to reach the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven’s embodiment by the Spirit of justice, peace and joy, secure within the Eternal’s Life empowerement of hope, faith and love….being all assembled into the completion of the sanctity of body, soul and spirit, preparing until the return of His majesty in our midst on earth…”

      …may all blessings be with us all…

    6. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/holistichelping/message/3628

      Janet Feldman:

      Dear Graham, Wendi and all AK friends, and Rachel,

      Wonderful introduction, Graham, and so glad to see that we have “connected
      the DIY dots” in terms of DIY and Actwid Kongadzem! I have spoken to Wendi
      abt Graham and Graham abt Wendi, and tried to connect you both in the HH
      forum, but think that perhaps Graham was not with us here at that time. So I
      am delighted to see that “first contact” has been made, and I hope this will
      be the start of something sustainably solar!

      Graham, if you and Rachel can meet you might be able to give her something
      to bring back to Kenya–for herself, Sam, and perhaps others–or simply
      explain in person how DIY Solar can be of help to nonprofits, projects,
      communities, and individuals in Kenya. Rachel too might be interested in
      solar energy and products for projects related to her organization and
      activities (Voluntary Youth Philanthropists and the Peace Caravan).

      I look forward to continuing communications here among all of us about solar
      power and sustainable energies, and to the development of local projects
      with both local and global results.

      Thanks so much and blessings to all, Janet

    7. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mendenyo/message/2192

      Andrius Kulikauskas:
      Peter, you know realistically the strengths and weaknesses of the solar
      rechargers for mobile phone batteries. What do you think is the best kind
      of business that could result where you live? As Graham writes, the
      business plans must come from Africa.
      For example, if it takes 7 hours to recharge a battery (is that true?)
      then obviously people can’t wait to have their batteries recharged.
      However, you could have a “club” where club members come, leave their
      uncharged batteries and pick up fresh batteries. Also, club members might
      earn points that lead to having a solar panel at home. And there can be
      other services. This is just a thought.Andrius,

      Peter Ongele:
      This is a bright idea which we originally had before. Since we have an active
      youth group in place, we thought of having different stations for charging mobile
      phones (having the stations close and easily reachable by the villagers to reduce
      long distances to places where they can charge their phones. Two, charging fee could
      be at a reduced fee of Ksh. 10, instead of Ksh. 20) We had also projected this
      business to be run by those who are weak (the HIV/AIDS_infected people) who can not
      do heavy works like fishing and doing farm works for survival. Already we have two
      electrician members who are really very good in Solar systems and I hope we would
      still make up the business either through the above method and by selling the Solar
      modules. Ones you organize with Graham for the modules to be sent to us, we
      would establish a DIY Solar workshop to serve and help manage this business
      successfully. We have been just waiting for the
      business….we are fully prepared it.

  • Who We Are

    MediaShift is the premier destination for insight and analysis at the intersection of media and technology. The MediaShift network includes MediaShift, EducationShift, MetricShift and Idea Lab, as well as workshops and weekend hackathons, email newsletters, a weekly podcast and a series of DigitalEd online trainings.

    About MediaShift »
    Contact us »
    Sponsor MediaShift »
    MediaShift Newsletters »

    Follow us on Social Media