President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said on Tuesday that Taiwan’s ongoing efforts to promote solar-powered LED lighting in Africa could bring new life to Taiwan’s troubled LED and solar power industries.
Referring to the “A Light for Africa” project in Burkina Faso that Taipei is sponsoring, Ma said Taiwan’s ultimate goal is to allow all the students from 11,000 elementary schools in Burkina Faso to own one of the Taiwan-provided lights.
“‘A Light for Africa’ can probably create a different industry,” said Ma, who is in the West African country on a state visit.
Ma said the landlocked country has a serious power shortage, with only 15 percent of locations in the capital receiving sufficient electricity supplies at night.
Under these circumstances, each Burkinabe family needs at least one solar-powered LED light, which could translate to commercial opportunities, Ma said.
“A light costing US$10 may be the hope of the future” for Burkinabes, he said.
Under the project, photovoltaic power-generating systems have been installed in participating schools and each student has been given an LED lighting kit equipped with a rechargeable battery that lasts four-and-a-half hours. The children can recharge their lamps at school and take them home to use at night.
Ma toured two elementary schools that have benefited from the project. He later went to the home of one of the students at night and said he was touched to see four children lying on a mat studying under their light provided by Taiwan.
Ma also said he felt ashamed about Taiwan’s wasteful use of electricity after seeing how Burkinabes cherish their scarce resources.