“Taking Lesotho Beyond National Grid” is the tagline that resonated throughout the entire 2019 sustainable energy exhibition organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Energy and Meteorology and the European Union (EU). The event which attracted 15 exhibitors, was held at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru, Lesotho.

One of the public viewers Mr Mohapi Letsie said the clean energy technologies that were displayed were very breath taking. “There is nothing more pleasing in life for me to see young people coming up with ideas and implementing new technologies to assist in changing the status quo,” Letsie said adding that he found it helpful for himself to meet with young inventors in person and to have a word with them about their inventions. 

Speaking at the event, Minister of Energy and Meteorology, Honorable Tsukutlane Au noted that it is the responsibility of the Government to provide clean affordable energy through his ministry to drive the economy and improve the livelihoods of Basotho. “Lesotho has good renewable energy sources in the form of solar, hydro and wind. We can play a role to increase access to energy for majority of the rural population”, Au said.

The exhibition was meant to raise awareness of the public on affordable, clean energy technologies that are available in the market. The exhibition was also meant to help service providers to come together in one place to show case their innovations. The gathering created awareness amongst senior government officials about the importance of sustainable energy access, making sure they understood that there is an emerging industry on their own door-step which could assist with the task of ‘lighting up the nation’.

The innovators at this event were Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and academic institutions. They displayed and presented their products, innovations and initiatives related to energy efficiency and renewable energy, to an audience of government officials, community representatives, regulators, financial institutions, NGOs, and the general public at large.

“I find this exhibition very helpful for me as a youth and a scholar because I get to show case my talent and intellectual ability. We don’t often get this kind of opportunity where the minister and other delegates are present and engage with us exhibitors about our inventions”, said an eleven-year old Limpho Poola, a primary pupil from National University of Lesotho International School (NULIS.

Poola invented a ‘lizard solar air heater’. Her idea is to bring solution to warm up houses through solar energy hence saving fuel in winter.Explaining how it works, she 
indicated that the roofing of the houses have solar rays that conserve the heat from the sun. So as the air goes into the roofing through the pipe, it fills the vacuum and escapes only through the pipe that goes into the house. When air has entered the roofing, it gets warmed up by the heat from the solar rays, and enters the house thus warming up the house. There are two thermometers that monitors the heat. One monitors the heat from the sun while the other monitors the room temperature. 

NULIS pupil Limpho Poola shows off her 'lizard solar air invention'

Another focus of the exhibition was also to showcase a full range of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies manufacture and/or distributed by private developers, including solar mobile lighting kits, a range of improved fuel efficient cook stoves, insulated cookers etc . Fuel efficient cook stoves reduce the production of smoke and harmful gases within households. They reduce the use of biomass significantly, reduce cooking cycle times and create household safety and labour benefits.

One innovator of energy efficient stoves is the African Clean Energy (ACE) which manufactures and supplies efficient cook stoves in rural households in Southern Africa.  ACE1 is a stove that provides clean smokeless cooking experience. It enables users to charge phones and to light the house at night. It is charged with solar and also uses electricity when there’s a need.

According to the National Energy Survey published in 2018, gathering wood is time consuming as urban households spend 77 minutes travelling and collecting wood while peri-urban and rural households spend 118 and 93 minutes respectively on average. In Lesotho, it is commonly the women’s responsibility to collect wood and to cook hence they spend hours per day near stoves. Fuel efficient cook stoves significantly reduces indoor air pollution resulting in reduced respiratory diseases among women and children.

 “Access to energy is at the heart of development and it is imperative that accessibility to modern energy sources and technologies should be one of the major objective of all government’s policies and global efforts towards poverty alleviation, improving health services and access to quality education.” These are the words echoed by the UNDP Resident Representative a.i Christy Ahenkora during the event.

She further noted that besides promoting access to renewable energy, UNDP through the “Development of Cornerstone Public Policies and Institutional Capacities to accelerate Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Progress” project, supports the development of on- and off-grid renewable energy technologies and delivery services and also supports government to transform their renewable energy markets by identifying and implementing policies that catalyse investment in renewable energy technologies. 

The European Union Delegation Head of Cooperation to the Kingdom of Lesotho, Markus Theobald, said that even though Lesotho is gifted with plenty and wealthy natural energy resources that are suitable for generation of clean and renewable energy, whether it is hydro-, solar- or wind-energy, Lesotho still depends on non-renewable energy that is purchased abroad.

Inventions

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The Positive Planet International show case their solar panel that charges electrical home systems such as television, lamp for lighting the house, cell phones and the likes.
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African Clean Energy representative explains to the Honourable Minister, UNDP delegation and the public about their invention

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