Ou Sokhoeun, Tem Sovann and Kong Viphavy are the solar task force trio who are charged with taking light into Cambodia’s darkest corners. There are about 1.4 billion people worldwide living without electricity and in rural Cambodia, about 65% of the population live beyond the reach of the national grid. Most people light their way with small batteries and kerosene lamps, which pose considerable health and safety problems as well as denying children the ability to continue their school work after dusk. It’s called Total Access to Solar and is lighting the path to a brighter future for the population of Cambodia’s far-flung rural provinces. It is also a motoring accessory that will throw light on mechanical problems or roadside breakdowns. And its power comes from the sun.
Total’s solar task force currently travels about 2000km a month across the Kingdom to demonstrate the company’s Awango solar powered lantern to rural chiefs of communes or villages across the nation. Their first stop this year was in July when they met with commune and village chiefs at Sre Noy, about 380km from Phnom Penh in Siem Reap province. The audience of 15 represented 3,500 families. The following month they demonstrated Awango solar power to 15 audiences representing 2495 families in in Speu Kor, Prey Veng province about 80km northeast of Phnom Penh and in Kompong Speu province to 63 audiences representing 2200 families. As project manager Ou Sokhouen said: “It was a privilege taking the sun into the darkness of those remote villages to give people a chance to experience the wonder of modern technology and the way it could be used to improve their lives; particularly those of their children. “Obviously, their first question was how much. With prices starting at $17 and rising to $198, they can work out a deal with a reseller. We explain all this at our meetings with the village chiefs and tell them the panel needs to be charged during the day to get from six to 12 hours of light at night. They also like the fact that the solar lamp is the only one on the market with a two-year warranty. ”At one commune we were lucky enough to photograph a group of seven children working on their homework, courtesy of the bright light of the Awango by Total solar lamp.”
Access to electricity in the Kingdom covers barely a quarter of the country and only 12.5% of rural areas. It is also often too costly for many people in remote areas, and generators are a prohibitively costly alternative. Awango by Total is the perfect solution, offering clean, efficient and reliable energy, it is the only one on the market with a twoyear warranty and has a plug-in socket for charging most mobile phones. “This is a fascinating piece of technology that enables home owners, especially in the countryside, to access energy,” says Martin McCarthy, Total Cambodge’s managing director. “Children can learn at dawn and dusk. It is a small but possibly essential bridge to the modern world for hundreds of thousands of people. It’s also clean, green, emission-free and cost effective. “This solar lamp follows our commitment to make people’s everyday lives easier and to offer access to previously unknown comforts,”added McCarthy. “It’s incredibly simple and can be operated by anyone in the family