The idea was founded around 2007 by Mr Ram Mohan. By then, ComAfrique was a cashew trading company. Working with lots of local farmers every year, they heard numerous complaints of losing houses in fire outbreaks caused by candles. Searching for a solution, Mr Mohan got an idea from a gift he once got. It was a solar light. He began with a small number of villages with the support of the former president of The Gambia. After installing solar lights in the first four, they started lighting up more and more villages every year. Today, there are 95 villages in The Gambia using solar lamps instead of candles. Apart from projects in The Gambia, ComAfrique Inversol Initiative is the reason lights are available in 130 villages in Guinea Bissau. They have provided lights for 50 medical centres and a solar water purifier system in 1 kindergarten school.
Light Up The Village Project is not only making a difference for the remote households yet also creating new employment opportunities in collaboration with the Fandema project. The whole assembly of the lights is taking place in The Gambia, by young girls included in local and community development projects for women with the aim of promoting their productive capacities through entrepreneurial training.
In August 2021, ComAfrique-Inversol Initiative lit up the Nioro Tukulor, a village in the Central River Region of The Gambia. The lights donated to this village were sponsored by The Indian Community in The Gambia, celebrating 75 years of India’s independence. For each year of independence, one light has been donated to the village.
My Gambia team was honoured to witness this event. Young men and women dressed up in their best traditional outfits welcomed the new era in the village. The event started with an enchanting reception of the guests of honour and continued with a cultural dance by groups of girls. Many of the residents expressed their sincere gratitude to the Indian community and ComAfrique-Inversol Initiative.
The villagers set up a light committee consisting of members of the village. They are now responsible for the collection of the daily contribution of GMD 2 for each light. This is how they make the project sustainable, create a sense of responsibility, and still lower the lighting cost since one candle can cost from 5 to 10 dalasis. The money is then used to maintain and buy additional lights for the rest of the households, replace the broken ones, or even for other developments in the village. Adama Bah, a resident of the Nioro Tukolor and one of the trainees of the Fandema project, will now be responsible for the installation and maintenance of the solar lights and the training of her fellow villagers.