For most of the people who trooped over to the Hivos Southern Africa exhibition stand at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show 2017, the opportunity to charge their cell phones at the mobile solar stations proved to be quite novel.
Solar Mobile Charging Systems Excites Citizens
The ZAS is Zimbabwe’s premier agricultural trade exhibition that attracts approximately 200,000 visitors in total every year. Against the background of pulsating music, approximately 3,000 people crowded into the 8000 square metre exhibition area.
Hivos Southern Africa used the opportunity of the trade exhibition’s theme, ‘Seed to Food’ to get citizens to engage with its Green and Inclusive Energy programme.
“This is a system that could help me to save on electricity costs. I like that it also comes with a light,” said John Chirango, 37, while examining the kit provided at the Hivos stand’s solar station.
Through its Green and Inclusive Energy (GIE programme), Hivos Southern Africa has been using arts and culture to foster innovative and creative ways to spark citizen interest and engagement in renewable energy.
Why Renewable Energy Matters
The Green and Inclusive Energy programme focuses on lobby and advocacy aimed at influencing the public and political debate on energy, with the ultimate aim of transitioning toward greener and more inclusive energy systems.
The programme’s nucleus is built on cooperation with and capacity strengthening of national civil society to effectively advocate in favour of green and inclusive policies.
The inclusive component of the partnership is geared toward improving family health, food supplies and income, and increasing opportunities for women that will allow them greater and more productive participation in politics, society and the economy.
Tapping into the Power of Art and Culture
Apart from music and entertainment, which was a huge drawcard of audiences to interact with the objectives of GIE, Hivos Southern Africa engaged Rolland Lunga and Admire Kuzhangarara, online comedians who have a huge following in Zimbabwe.
“We’re here to raise awareness about renewable energy. We’ve the sun which we can tap and make a difference in our lives and livelihoods. Sunlight is free and we must use it to our advantage,” said Kuzhangarara.
Energy has traditionally been framed in highly technical terms with a focus on the supply side and barely on the end users. The GIE programme seeks to pivot this traditional approach by focusing on citizens who are affected by availability or lack of access to energy.
“Through this process, we are reaching out to everyday energy users in order to make them aware of the available energy sources, particularly renewable energy technologies,” said Reginald Mapfumo, Project Manager of Green Energy at Hivos Southern Africa.
Hivos Southern Africa also conducted a quiz competition focusing on the state of renewable energy in Zimbabwe.
There is growing evidence linking socioeconomic benefits with access to a reliable and affordable supply of energy. The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 focuses on a concerted global effort to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.