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Power Roll trials flexible solar PV to power off-grid health centre in Zambia

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POWER Roll, a developer of ultra low-cost and lightweight flexible solar PV, has been awarded funding through Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst 7 to evaluate the use of flexible PV film in powering rural, off-grid applications in developing regions. 

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Power Roll recently switched the focus of one of its projects to supply power to a rural health centre in Southern Zambia. The health centre provides basic healthcare to a rural community. On Call Africa, a UK healthcare charity, oversees the running of the clinic and Vero Power, specialists in working with communities across Africa to enable access to electricity, is Power Roll’s project delivery partner working in Zambia.

The off-grid system consists of a 5 kW flexible solar PV array, an inverter with remote monitoring and a 3.2 kVA/5.2 kWh battery store to provide power throughout the night. The electricity generated will power lighting, a refrigerator and other essential equipment. 

“The World Bank estimates there are 840 million people without access to electricity and another 3 billion that rely on polluting fuels for heating and cooking,” said Neil Spann, managing director, Power Roll. “Energy demand is set to grow rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. Our flexible solar film has the potential to dramatically increase access to off-grid power because it can be manufactured for just $0.03 per Watt – substantially lower than any other source of power.”

Executive Chair, Innovate UK, Dr Ian Campbell, said: “Businesses from all over the UK have answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through the power of innovation. The ideas we have seen can truly make a significant impact on society, improve the lives of individuals, especially those in vulnerable groups and enable businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.” 

The scope of the trial is wide ranging. Power Roll will assess the technical benefits associated with a lightweight, portable source of solar power, and will also evaluate how access to affordable, clean electricity can enable social inclusion and gender equality. It is also trialling novel approaches to mounting the solar film using wire tensioning systems, which allow the solar film to be quickly and easily moved to where it is most needed.

“Deploying Power Roll’s innovative PV technology in our ground-breaking micro-grid solutions can be life-changing for rural off-grid communities. The cost-effectiveness of the product, the lightweight nature of the system and the ease of training our existing supply chain of installation partners will deliver substantial benefits,” said Craig Morgan, chief executive officer, VeroPower.

Power Roll is working closely with partner BIPVCo to integrate its flexible PV modules into the pilot system. These modules will provide valuable benchmark data to help evaluate the performance of Power Roll’s solar film, which will be used in the next stage of the project.

The project is scheduled to run through to the end of 2021 and Power Roll will report on the outcomes in January 2022.

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Zambia’s economic growth is estimated to drop from 3 percent to approximately -4.2 percent due Covid-19, Fredson Yamba says

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SECRETARY to the Treasury Fredson Yamba says Zambia’s economic growth is estimated to drop from 3 percent to approximately -4.2 percent due to the impact caused by the Covid-19.

And Yamba says the Ministry of Finance through the office of the DMMU and the Fire Brigade has conducted a successful Covid-19 preventive spraying at the ministry offices.

In a statement, Yamba said it is estimated that in the current fiscal year, the pandemic will have a sustained adverse impact on the economy and lead to a downward drift in the country’s projected growth from 3 percent to approximately -4.2 percent.

He said the Ministry of Finance will continue to review the economic sustainability initiatives that are in place in order to moderate the negative impact of Covid-19 on the economy.

And Yamba said the DMMU in collaboration with the fire brigade has conducted a successful Covid-19 preventive spraying at the Ministry of Finance.

Speaking at inspecting the spraying works, Yamba said the spraying which focused more on the surrounding buildings, offices, furniture, and other fixtures and fittings is aimed at ensuring that the ministry has a safe environment for management and staff and ensure that the prepations for the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the 2021 National Budget preparation are not affected by Covid-19.

He also directed all Ministry officials to observe the guidelines stipulated by health authorities so that the fight against COVID-19 is won.

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Lockdown Learning – How Educational TV Is Saving Our Kids

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By Dr Rozious Siatwambo

WITH Zambian schools set to remain closed for the rest of winter, and with an unknown path ahead for teaching for the remainder of the year, our children are facing a significant education challenge. For many students, particularly those in grades preceding important school transitions such as Grade 7, Grade 9 and Grade 12, this is particularly daunting, as the months lost to lockdown could potentially impact their readiness for next year.

It’s important to note that the time lost in the school year so far cannot be recovered. This will negatively impact all learners across all grades, and the time they have to finish important topics and syllabuses going forward. Students who have remained home have missed out on vast amounts of schoolwork. As a result, work that had to be covered in a single term will now take much longer to complete, adding further pressure to an already strained system. Added to this, many students need the support of their teachers and study groups to grasp key academic concepts. Learning alone, at home, deprives them of this support, making it that much more difficult for them to cope under the current conditions.

There is another critical factor to consider when assessing the impact of lockdown on education, and that is the mounting psychological pressure on students. Mentally and emotionally, our children are feeling the effects of not being in a classroom for months on end. Aside from the possible negative social impact, children’s behaviour has been affected, as they grapple with shifting their attention from progressive academic work to idleness in their communities.

It is against this unfolding backdrop to education in Zambia that I was delighted to hear that MultiChoice Zambia and the Ministry of General Education had taken the lead on e-learning and introduced a comprehensive new education channel called Edu TV. The channel is available on DStv channel 315 and GOtv channel 58, and broadcasts classroom-based learning and life skills programmes for children from primary school to secondary school level, based on the Zambian national curriculum.

This effectively extends national education services to almost every corner of our country, and offers the majority of our learners a valuable opportunity to keep abreast of academic work via TV. Learning through a digital platform like satellite-TV also reinforces the principle of staying home during this pandemic. Looking at this as a model for the future, there is potential for digital innovations to play a significant role in the transformation of Zambia’s education sector. Firstly, we can see this in the way Edu TV was specifically developed to fill the vital learning gap created by Covid-19 and the subsequent national lockdown.

We can also see it in MultiChoice Zambia’s wider bouquet of educational TV channels on DStv. This includes Mindset (channel 319), Mindset Pop (channel 317) and Da Vinci Kids (channel 318). While Mindset and Mindset Pop feature programming covering the entire spectrum of general education, from Early Childhood Learning to the current curriculums of Grades 4 to 9; Da Vinci Kids offers award-winning educational programming that is fun and stimulating, presenting inspired worldly views on important subjects.

Educational innovations like this are helping to change our children’s mindsets around learning, moving them out of the strict classroom landscape into more familiar digital territory. This is absolutely critical in preparing our youth for the innovations that will come in future – learning via video. Educational videos have the potential to provide theory instruction and enhance skills development, and as we have seen during lockdown, can be broadcast on multiple platforms, from TV to social and other online media.

While the future for lesson delivery will largely depend on how much capacity we can build into new technology systems, online is certainly one of the biggest future learning avenues Zambia will look to fully embracing. The launch of Edu TV on DStv and GOtv could not have come at more appropriate time. Considering the number of subscribers on these two platforms, the positive contribution this channel – along with DStv’s additional educational channels – will make in ensuring scholastic continuity during this difficult time cannot be overemphasised.

Learning is not attained by chance, it is attained through hard work and diligence. Technology, online and television-based learning broadens the arena in which we can encourage such hard work and diligence. These platforms provide invaluable support to Zambian educators, ultimately helping us to achieve our global education goals.

Dr Rozious Siatwambo is founder and CEO of Great North Road Academy Group of Companies, which includes Great North Road Academy, one of the leading private schools in Zambia. Dr Siatwambo is also an author, mentor and motivational speaker.

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IBA can not take any action against Spring TV for peddling rumors because the station is not licensed by IBA

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INDEPENDENT Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Director General Josephine Mapoma says the authority has no jurisdiction to take any action against Spring TV for peddling rumors because the station is not licensed by IBA.

Yesterday, Spring TV aired a story alleging that former General Education Minister David Mabumba had committed suicide.

But Mapoma in a statement said Spring TV is not licensed by the Authority and as such is not bound by its regulations.

She added that the IBA Act does not provide for the regulation of content broadcast over the internet.

“That notwithstanding, IBA stands with various stakeholders to condemn the false reporting that happens on the Internet and wishes to urge all media practitioners to abide by the journalism code of ethics,” Mapoma said.

And Mapoma said the desire of media institutions to be the first to give breaking news to the public should not be at the expense of accuracy and verification of facts.

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ZAMBIA: COVID-19 STATS

03 Aug 2020, 9:23 AM (GMT)

Zambia Stats

6,347 Total Cases
170 Deaths
4,493 Recovered

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