|Starehe Girls’ Centre & School|
|Year / Category||2017 / Global High Schools – Africa|
|Impact||Installed 25 kW of solar panels, 10 solar street lights and solar water heaters|
When students of the non-profit Starehe Girls’ Centre & School outside Nairobi, Kenya pressed their principal to allow them to apply for the Zayed Future Energy Prize, Sister Jane Soita initially rebuffed them, recalling that she said: “‘How can we, as a small school, beat all the schools in Africa?’ They said ‘Sister, let us try’, and still I said ‘No.’ Finally, I gave in and said, ‘Yes’.”
The result? The group of 10 students – who became the school’s “solar pioneers” – prepared an application, submitted it and won. Today a 25kW solar PV array funded by the Prize, along with solar water heaters installed in the school kitchens and 10 solar street lights have cut the school’s electricity bill in half.
With these savings, Sister Jane was able to educate 10 additional girls at the boarding school, which educates academically gifted girls who come from financially poor families across the country.
Nora Magwere, a renewable energy business partner to the solar pioneers, says that as a result of the project, “Many of them want to be engineers, and as a woman in this industry, I am very encouraged. These students are my heroes.”
Their work continues in other ways, as they coach younger students to take up their new “Cool Green Campaign”, an effort to spread the word about renewable energy to other schools in the region.
Speaking of the pioneers, who are soon off to university, Sister Jane says: “I’m so impressed. I’m so happy for them. I’ve come to believe that poverty is not a hindrance to success. These girls have brains. Everything they put their hands on, they win.”