RISA: Empowering Ghanaian Farmers with Solar Power Banks from Electronic Waste

RISA: Empowering Ghanaian Farmers with Solar Power Banks from Electronic Waste

Greenheart recently heard from Precious, one of our 2022 Greenheart Impact Grant winners on how their project has been making a huge difference in their community while bringing people and the planet closer together!

In a world grappling with the challenges of electronic waste and energy poverty, a remarkable project called RISA (Resilient, Inclusive and Sustainable Agriculture for Africa) has emerged as a beacon of hope for Ghanaian farmers. With the ingenious idea of converting discarded laptop batteries into solar power banks, RISA is providing an affordable and sustainable solution for rural communities that lack access to electricity. This transformation has not only improved the quality of life for farmers, but has also enhanced their ability to connect with customers in real-time. Let’s dive into this fascinating journey of RISA and its impact on Ghanaian agriculture.

For years, farmers in remote areas of Ghana have faced numerous challenges due to the lack of electricity infrastructure. The absence of power meant they had to travel long distances, often over 6 miles, to charge their mobile phones, which served as their primary means of communication with customers and suppliers. This problem does not only waste precious time of farmers, but also hinders their ability to conduct business effectively, resulting in missed opportunities and delayed transactions.

Recognizing the urgent need for a sustainable energy solution, a group of innovators led by Precious Esi Mensah in Ghana founded RISA. The project aimed to repurpose discarded laptop batteries, which are a significant component of electronic waste, and convert them into solar power banks. By harnessing the untapped potential of these batteries, RISA sought to provide farmers with a portable, eco-friendly, and reliable source of energy.

RISA’s approach was not only environmentally conscious, but also economically viable. The project team collected used laptop batteries from donors in homes and offices, preventing them from ending up in landfills where they would contribute to pollution. The batteries were then carefully disassembled, tested, and refurbished. The functional cells were reconfigured into solar power banks, incorporating solar panels to harness the abundant sunlight in Ghana.

The distribution of RISA’s solar power banks among Ghanaian farmers brought about a transformative change. Now, farmers no longer have to rely on erratic power supply or travel long distances to charge their phones. They could conveniently charge their devices using the solar power banks, enabling them to stay connected with customers and suppliers in real-time. This newfound accessibility paved the way for efficient communication, timely transactions, and improved agricultural practices.

The impact of RISA’s project has been remarkable. RISA have successfully recycled 100 laptop batteries into solar-powered banks, enabling farmers to access clean and affordable energy for their mobile phones and homes. This has not only improved their connectivity but has also brought about cost savings and reduced environmental impact.

Access to reliable electricity has empowered farmers to leverage digital technologies and applications that enhance their farming practices. They can now access weather forecasts, market prices, and valuable information on the internet. Additionally, the ability to connect with customers instantly has opened new avenues for market expansion and increased profitability.

The success of the RISA project has also laid a solid foundation for future job creation. Through the RISA project, a local was trained in our solar and upcycling engineering and is currently training five additional team members. Scaling up the training programs will ensure that more employment opportunities are created for young people in Ghana who are battled with unemployment and making sure farmers and homes benefit from climate-smart solutions, thereby enhancing agricultural resilience and sustainability across the region.

In the upcoming days, RISA will be going beyond converting e-waste into solar power banks. It will be repairing and refurbishing faulty or old laptops and mobile phones in an attempt to expand its scope of impact while placing digital equity at the center of climate action and food security.

Thank you Precious for making a difference!

If you are interested in learning more about the Greenheart Impact Grant like Precious was, please visit Greenheart.org.

Click here if you’d like to donate to help Greenheart fund the Global Impact Grant program.

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