STAFF REPORT IBD: Zong in collaboration with Buksh Foundation, a leading microfinance organization initiated a project Lighting a Million Lives which will provide solar powered charging stations to 2 villages of Chiniot District. Under this initiative of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), that aims to provide lightning to a billion people worldwide through solar powered lights.
At the MoU signing ceremony Mr Fan Yunjun, the CEO of Zong Pakistan stated, “We are pleased to support Buksh Foundation on this solar energy initiative especially since this aims to address a critical energy gap in the country. We are optimistic that this collaboration, whilst addressing the energy crisis, will also enhance female employment through generating increased entrepreneurship opportunities and will hence positively impact overall socio-economic development in the country”.
Ms Fiza Farhan, CEO of Buksh Foundation said, “This unique collaborative project will help create female empowerment in rural areas, provide a sustainable energy alternative for impoverished communities, increase economic capacity of the rural areas, creating literacy about the needs for environmental friendly energy alternatives and the benefits they provide.”
She further added, “With the help of Zong Buksh Foundation will be able to directly impact the lives of more than 500 individuals in Chiniot District and aim to expand this scope with time.”
Under this initiative, Zong will sponsor the establishment of charging stations through solar energy in the selected villages of Chiniot District. Zong will provide solar lanterns for the use of the villagers, which can be regularly charged at the solar-charging stations.
This is said that to promote women entrepreneurship these solar-charging stations will be operated by women from the same villages. Two female micro-entrepreneurs will be selected from each village to run these stations. They will then either rent out the charged solar lanterns every evening to fellow villagers at an affordable fee, or will sell the lanterns to individual households as per their need. Further, project will contribute to improvement of education and health standards, as has been observed in other countries where the project has been implemented.
About 43% (80 million people) of the total population of Pakistan lives without access to electricity. Interestingly, while some of the villages do not have electricity, their residents still have cellular connections and carry cell phones. The common practice in these areas is that one of the villagers collects all cell phones and goes to a nearby town with electricity to recharge these phones. By investing in the solar charging stations, ZONG is also making the process of recharging hassle free for the 2 fortunate villages.
It merits mentioning here that Zong now has more than 400 cell sites which are solar powered, the highest number for any telecom service provider in Pakistan.
The use of solar lanterns, over its life span of about 10 years will also result saving of 500 to 600 liters of kerosene oil for kerosene lamps, eliminating about 1.5 tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.