How Energy SA is Contributing to Communities in DR Congo
December 23, 2022
You are reading this article thanks to the modern wonder of electricity. Access to electricity is a privilege that all Australians can enjoy. However, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this privilege is available to some 20% of the population. In the remote town of Luvungi, the lack of access to electricity isn't just about modern conveniences but life or death. Without electricity, life-saving surgery is impossible, mothers die in childbirth, and orphaned children don't have access to an education that could otherwise break this cycle.
In the remote town of Luvungi, the lack of access to electricity isn't just about modern conveniences but life or death.
Fortunately, the story doesn't end there. Dr Luc Mulimbalimba and his wife, Delice, are making significant and sustainable changes through their partnership with Australian organisations. Their organisation, Mission in Health Care and Development Australian Support Association (here on, referred to as MHCDASA), is a humanitarian, non-profit organisation based in Adelaide, Australia.
According to Dr Luc, MHCDASA's main objectives are to "reduce poverty and malnutrition, provide good and proper health care for people, [assist] community development activities, as well as promote education" in DRC communities.
Reducing poverty and malnutrition, providing healthcare and promoting education
MHCDASA has a vast impact on Luvungi and the surrounding districts and nations. Since its inception in 2005, MHCDASA has created over 200 jobs, received over 150 beds for hospitals, started a secondary school with over 1300 children - most of whom are orphans - and developed community microfinancing for women.
MHCDASA's Containers of Hope are a great source of joy for the Congolese people.
One of MHCDASA's most impactful initiatives is 'Container of Hope'. These containers bring donated medical equipment and educational and humanitarian resources, including solar panels, to the Congolese people.
These resources enable hospitals and schools to expand and develop their capabilities, and donated solar panels can provide power for running water, toilets and showers, operating tables, theatre lights, anaesthetic machines, and sterilisers. MHCDASA's Containers of Hope are a great source of joy for the Congolese people (Source: MHCDASA).
A second life for solar panels is saving lives in DR Congo
In 2020, only 17.5 million people – or 19% of the population – had access to electricity in DR Congo (Source: WorldBank). Luvungi, the town where MHCDASA's work is based, has no electricity infrastructure whatsoever.
Before 2020, MHCDASA's work relied on a power generator and purchased fuel to keep their electrical supplies running. However, the rising fuel cost and limited financial aid made maintaining supplies more challenging. So they began receiving donations of used solar panels to set up "a 100kw solar farm in Luvungi which will be a great socio-economic project in the Uvira Territory" (Source: MHCDASA).
"If you don't have power and electricity, the world today is difficult. You can't finish secondary school without opening a computer. If you have a computer, they need charge," explains Dr Luc.
In Luvungi, electricity brings dignity, education and life-saving healthcare.
In Luvungi, electricity brings dignity, education and life-saving healthcare by powering a midwifery college, accommodation units, a community hall and a university.
Once this project is complete, the plan is to use 50% of the electricity for MHCDASA's projects, such as providing electricity to hospitals and schools. The other 50% will be distributed to approximately 300 houses and microfinancing projects.
Small talk or an appointment with destiny?
In 2019, Robby Mack (Energy SA's co-owner) was making small talk with an acquaintance at a birthday dinner. The conversation started with your run-of-the-mill party pleasantries but gradually took a more meaningful turn.
In the following moments, Robby's acquaintance introduced him to the work of MHCDASA and explained that Energy SA could donate solar panels to support Congolese communities. Having a 'shed load' of used (but still functioning) panels that could have been sold or recycled, Robby jumped at the opportunity to donate.
Hearing about the need in DR Congo and the "massive difference that Dr Luc is making," Robby saw the opportunity to donate the "shed full of solar panels that could have been recycled or sold".
Here in Australia, roof space on properties can be limited. With technology continually improving, older panels are often physically larger and produce less power for the area they occupy. People look to upgrade their system - not because their current system is obsolete - but because they want to maximise their space with a more efficient system.
"Participating in this ongoing initiative offers no financial benefit to Energy SA," Robby explains. "We do our best to reduce our environmental impact, so partnering with MHCDASA is a meaningful and sustainable way to give panels a second life for people who need them. Everyone wins!"
Partnering with MHCDASA is a meaningful and sustainable way to give panels a second life for people who need them.
"Energy SA was on the frontline to help with secondhand solar panels," explains Dr Luc. "They tested them, and they were in very good condition. We have already sent two containers of solar panels to DRC and have since installed a solar farm.
Now we are looking for donations of solar batteries and inverters to be able to make the solar farm off-grid and provide continuous power to the community."
"Solar power will be a big relief, not only for Luvingi but for the district. People from all over the DRC and the surrounding countries come for treatment and schooling. If we want to do better than what we're doing, we need power."
Give your old panels a second life
Upgrading your system through Energy SA means that your old panels, batteries and inverters will find a second life - and a meaningful one. If you have a current solar system that you want to upgrade, speak with one of our friendly team members. We'd love to discuss your options!
If you're interested in finding out more about MHCDASA or supporting them directly, you can visit their website.