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Zong in collaboration with Buksh Foundation, a leading microfinance organization, is set to light up rural lives through the project ‘Lighting a Million Lives’ that will provide solar-powered lighting to 2 villages as a start of a long term partnership. The initiative is a part of the TERI project that aims to provide lightning to a billion people worldwide through solar power.
Under the partnership, Zong will sponsor the establishment of Solar Charging Stations in the selected villages in Chiniot District, providing solar lanterns for the use of the villagers, which can be regularly charged at the solar-charging stations. This is the first time in the country’s history that a telecom company is investing in a clean energy initiative to provide much needed lighting to those living in the depth of darkness in rural parts of the country.
The initiative has important socio-economic benefits as well. As the solar-charging stations will be operated by women from the same villages, the project directly promotes women empowerment. Two female micro-entrepreneurs will be selected from each village to run these stations. They will then either rent out the charged solar lanterns every evening to fellow villagers at an affordable fee, or will sell the lanterns to individual households as per their need. Further, project will contribute to improvement of education and health standards, as has been observed in other countries where the project has been implemented. The use of solar lanterns, over its life span of about 10 years will also result in 500 to 600 liters of kerosene not being used for kerosene lamps, eliminating about 1.5 tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
About 43% (80 million people) of the total population of Pakistan lives without access to electricity. Interestingly, while some of the villages do not have electricity, their residents still have cellular connections and carry cell phones. The common practice in these areas is that one of the villagers’ collects all cell phones and goes to a nearby town with electricity to recharge these phones. By investing in the solar charging stations, Zong is also making the process of recharging hassle free for the 2 fortunate villages.
Zong is one of those few companies in the country which has embedded sustainability to the core of its business. The Company now has more than 400 cell sites which are solar powered, the highest number for any telecom service provider in Pakistan.
At the MoU signing ceremony between Zong and Buksh Foundation for the project Mr Fan Yunjun, the CEO of Zong Pakistan stated “‘We are pleased to support Buksh Foundation on this solar energy initiative especially since this aims to address a critical energy gap in the country. We are optimistic that this collaboration, whilst addressing the energy crisis, will also enhance female employment through generating increased entrepreneurship opportunities and will hence positively impact overall socio-economic development in the country.’
Ms Fiza Farhan, Chief Executive Officer of Buksh Foundation states, ‘“This unique collaborative project will help create female empowerment in rural areas, provide a Sustainable Energy Alternative for impoverished communities, increase economic capacity of the rural areas, creating literacy about the needs for environmentally friendly energy alternates and the benefits they provide. With the help of Zong we will be able to directly impact the lives of more than 500 individuals in Chiniot District and aim to expand this scope with time.”