Di Massimo Picalarga
In January 2020 I went to East Africa with the XVI Field Study Abroad (https://www.fieldstudyabroad.org/about/), a training course oriented to prepare young professionals capable to face the challenges of developing countries in both urban and rural areas and ready to approach the identification of needs.
During the course we visited the Off Grid Box operative centre in Kigali (Rwanda).
Off Grid Box is an international company headquartered in the USA with operating centres in Italy and Rwanda that provides container systems for electrical energy, water purification and internet access in several developing African countries, particularly Rwanda, Tanzania and South Africa. It’s main goal is to change the custom of people that still use untreated water because clean and safe water is not available near their homes or too much expensive. That’s why the company provides a water purification system included in its container system, composed of an easy to transport container (2x2x2 m), a photovoltaic panel (3 kWp), 4 gel lithium batteries, a power bank recharge station. People are offered electrical energy through a rechargeable power banks for their mobiles and their house lighting, LED lamps and, as benefit every power bank recharge, they receive a 5 litres jerrycan full of purified water. The plant can be bought or got through a ‘Pay As You Go’ system (the box is for free and only services used are paid), installation and maintenance always included.
The container system is planned for communities with at least 400 families, or rather villages of 1.500/2.000 inhabitants and only requires connection to a water source.
Off Grid Box mission envisages to support gender equality as well, therefore the company only hires single mothers with dependent children as box keepers.
It was great to realize how this simple kind of system represents an essential instrument for improving the life quality of rural not grid-connected communities.