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CoffeeSnobs FairCrack - Solar for Tanzania

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  • CoffeeSnobs FairCrack - Solar for Tanzania

    Stand proud CoffeeSnobs, our biggest and longest project to date has finally touched down.

    About 9 months ago I started working with a factory in China to produce small solar units for the villagers on Kilimanjaro and around Machare Estate in Tanzania.

    In the coffee growing areas, the villagers use kerosene for light. One week of kero lamp fumes is equal to every member of the household smoking a carton of cigarettes and it doesn't really throw enough light to read/study/do stuff. It's also expensive to run with most households spending between US$8.00 and US$10.00 a month in kero. You can quickly see that solar will be a real plus to their health, comfort and back pocket.

    The factory put together some likely kits and I purchased some demo units to see how they performed in cloudy days. With a pile of testing we settled on some 7.4v lithium battery units, 4 x 2watt LED globes each with an inline switch and an 8watt solar panel. These are amazing little units and on a full charge will run the 4 lights for 6 hours (2 lights for 12 hours etc).

    Considering they don't have a "Bunnings" near by, we also got the factory to put together a little kit of cable clips, screws and ties etc so people could wire these in themselves. To my surprise, the factory even offered to put our name on the units and cartons (no extra charge) and tossed in a multi-adaptor to charge mobile phones (remember the old Nokia chargers? Still needed in Africa!)

    FairCrack purchased 1200 units in total. Some will be kept as "warranty spares" in case something happens but in all my testing so far these are pretty bullet proof with simple connections and very well made.

    Freight was pretty easy, then there were plenty of government hurdles to jump though. SGS independently certified the quality of the kits, and we needed some special importation permits including a PVoC to prove we were not dumping rubbish in Africa. The container arrived in Dar Es Salam and the freight forwarder disappeared. URRGGHH. Took a few months (yeah months!) to find the container, prove it was ours and then get all the government inspections done. At one point it looked like we were going to be charged 40% duty but with the huge amount of help on the ground from Bente and Ralph the Gov settled on the standard 18% VAT (paid on the invoice price of the product, the freight and the container), a handful of other fees and then we got charged storage for the months the container was missing. Ahhh, that's the fun part of these projects, frustrations and tears are all forgotten once the product hits the ground.

    FairCrack also purchased the shipping container, it's old and crusty and end-of-life but it made it across the ocean and then the journey to Machare Estate on a flatbed truck. This gave them somewhere weather secure to keep them while distribution happened.

    So finally they are on Kilimanjaro! Bente's farm manager Thadeus has been opening every carton and plugging them in to show the new owners how they work. Even after the months of sitting, only a little light is needed on the panel to get the lamps shining brightly.

    The first in the distribution were the small holders around Machare and since then the circle is widening to the villagers. They were all excited to get clean light and I have just received a pile of pictures via Thadeus.

    I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story...

  • #2
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    • #3
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      • #4
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        • #5
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          • #6
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              • #8
                A huge shout-out to Bente and Ralph who copped a ton of work in helping land these through the red-tape and are still working hard to get these to those that will get the biggest benefit. Also thanks to Julie in the factory in China, she worked hard getting all the paperwork in order and never complained when we had to keep going back for more. Our freight guys in Australia were also dragged into this to get it over the line and of course well done CoffeeSnobs everywhere!

                Your FairCrack donations are again making a real, tangible, long-term positive difference to peoples lives.
                ...and we should all feel really good about that!

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                • #9
                  Hi Andy

                  you and everyone should be extremely proud of the work you do with faircrack. The smiles on those people’s faces is amazing to think it’s because they can clean light when dark.
                  a massive job well done!
                  cheers
                  martin

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                  • #10
                    A long and sometimes bumpy road but it's great to see all the work has paid off and the sets are finally making their way into the peoples hands. WooHoo! Way to go Andy and everyone else involved!


                    Java "Great job Snobs!!" phile
                    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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                    • #11
                      Seeing the joy of people receiving a basic necessity of life is heartwarming, a huge congratulations to Andy for running this amazing humanitarian initiative!!

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                      • #12
                        Truly amazing Andy. Love the huge smiles on everyone, your team should be very proud.

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                        • #13
                          A lot of work but a wonderful result...
                          Loads of kudos to Andy, Family and all the others who made this happen.

                          Wonderful stuff,
                          Mal.

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                          • #14
                            Wow, that is just fantastic, awesome work!

                            Looks like a great little kit for camping etc, will they be available in bean bay?

                            Cheers

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                            • #15
                              What a great story!
                              The pictures fail to tell the future health benefits, plus the social benefits of electrification - like it will be easier for those kids that do get to go to school to do homework.
                              They also fail to tell the immense frustration and headaches, of getting this on the ground, let alone the hours Andy and others would have spent making this come to fruition.
                              I also know that there are a bunch of small scale microfinanced solar systems available off the shelf, but even they are too expensive. Huge kudo's to Andy and all involved for coming up with something that is feasible for this situation.

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