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Coalition Including Google, GivePower and Silfab Solar Brings Solar Power to One of Africa's Oldest National Parks and a Prominent Peace School in the Democratic Republic of Congo

20 Jul 2021

GivePower Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to extending the environmental and social benefits of clean, renewable energy around the globe, has completed three solar projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in partnership with Nuru, a Congolese renewable energy utility. The installations, designed to help protect endangered wildlife and support children historically affected by violence, were made possible by Congo Power, an initiative backed by Google, and by Silfab Solar, which generously donated equipment.

"The work we are doing with our partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo is both immensely challenging and incredibly meaningful," said Hayes Barnard, founder and chairman of GivePower. "The DRC is rich in resources that have fueled conflict and instability for decades, while access to electricity remains scarce. Through our collaboration with Congo Power, Google and Silfab Solar, we will collectively unlock new opportunities to scale community-led clean energy solutions."

(photo by Nuru)

Two communities (Tadu & Faradje) surrounding the Garamba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980 where armed conflicts and instability in past decades have led to an increase in poaching, now have solar mini grids that will bring reliable and clean power to the area. The mini grids, which were built and are operated by Nuru, were largely funded by the European Union through its partner African Parks Network, a not-for-profit organization working to revitalize conservation areas that are currently under threat. With access to stable and affordable electricity the communities of Tadu and Faradje are less reliant on extracting resources from the park and have a greater ability to generate sustainable livelihoods that don't degrade the surrounding natural environment.

Additional financial support for the solar mini grids included the forward purchase by Google of Peace Renewable Energy Credits (P-RECs), an innovative financing instrument developed by Energy Peace Partners (EPP) to help fund high impact renewable energy projects that promote peace and stability. Google's support further expands the P-REC market launched by EPP and Nuru in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2020.

The Congo Peace School solar project will help provide vulnerable youth with quality education in a region burdened by conflict. In addition to teaching the standard Congolese curriculum, the one-of-a-kind primary and secondary school provides nutritious meals, computer lab access and nonviolent dispute resolution training. The school is run by ABFEC, a Congolese owned and operated non-profit, with financial support from U.S. non-profits Action Kivu and The Dillon Henry Foundation. Action Kivu provides direct assistance to survivors of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Eastern Congo through entrepreneurial training and education projects rooted in peace and equality.

The three solar projects were spearheaded by Congo Power, an initiative launched in 2017 that seeks to reinforce responsible minerals trade and expand economic opportunity in the African Great Lakes Region through the deployment of clean energy. Congo Power's founding members include Google, GivePower and the grassroots peacebuilding organization Resolve. The University of California Berkeley's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab, led by Dan Kammen, is also playing an important role in measuring and reporting on the impact of these solar energy systems.

"We are committed to supporting communities committed to conflict-free mining, reducing reliance through enabling livelihoods with clean energy, and improving the lives of people living near natural resource extraction sites. Providing access to clean electricity is a powerful way to do that," said Alyssa Newman, responsible supply chain manager at Google and founder of Congo Power.  "We are grateful to GivePower for designing and managing our latest Congo Power projects, and to Silfab for donating solar equipment that will have an enduring positive impact."

Installations in the two communities surrounding Garamba National Park as well as the Congo Peace School project are powered by Silfab Solar's premium quality solar photovoltaic modules. Leveraging 40 years of solar experience and best-in-class manufacturing technologies, Silfab's donation will ensure that the three sites have consistent access to clean power for many years to come.

"Silfab Solar is proud to have been a part of the incredible work done by GivePower, Google and the Congo Power project. We are committed to improving access to clean energy and sustainability across the globe and look forward to further collaborations with our partners at GivePower," said Geoff Atkins, head of sales and marketing at Silfab Solar.

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