World Bulletin / News Desk
The Mongolian government has taken upon itself to install solar panels on tents in its vast plains where around 800,000 nomads live.
Near to a third of Mongolia’s population continue to live an unchanged centuries old nomadic lifestyle, herding animals and living in tents made of yak’s wool.
Up until just a few years ago, they had almost no access to electricity. However, in this region, which gets 250 days of sunshine a year, the potential to produce solar-powered electricity is endless.
The government originally started installing solar panels in 2000, but the project was stalled in 2005. In 2006 the project was revived when the World Bank agreed to cover half of the costs and set up centers across the country so people wouldn’t have to travel all the way to the capital when maintenance was needed.
By 2013, 70% of the country’s nomads gained access to solar power, surpassing the original target of 35%. It has given nomads access to television, which tells them the weather forecast, enabling them to keep their animals safe. It also allows them to keep in touch with their children via telephone, most of whom are in boarding schools in the capital Ulaanbaatar.
The project has also helped Mongolia lower its carbon dioxide emissions, which according to a report by Al-Jazeera, is already 10 times higher than the world average due to coal mining in the country. Solar energy is clean as it does not produce smoke pollution caused by fires and candles.
The fact that most nomads now own mobile phones and color televisions, however, make some worry that their traditional nomadic lifestyle is under threat. On the other hand, the fact that the solar panels are portable allows nomads to take them wherever they go, in order to help them continue their nomadic lifestyle.
Ghana is currently hosting a two-day Sub-Saharan Africa Solar Conference organized by independent business media company Magenta Global.
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