Amui Dzor Solar Project in Ashaiman, Ghana



As of 2017, the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor (GHAFUP) has organized 338 groups in 25 cities and towns. A few years ago in Ashaiman, Greater Accra, the federation and its partners constructed a low cost housing project for 36 families, incorporating commercial facilities and public space. The development is called the Amui Dzor Housing Project and it is managed by a community cooperative. This year, the community began to organize its members and consider how they might capitalize on the Energy Commission of Ghana’s subsidy programme for rooftop solar PV. This aims to promote renewable energy use for households but is framed as being only accessible to detached houses rather than multi-family dwellings such as Amui Dzor. The priority for the organizing was to establish whether a solar project could reduce the utility bills of Amui Dzor residents and provide a reliable source of electricity to homes and businesses.


With support from the federation support NGO People’s Dialogue and SDI, the federation began engagement with the Energy Commission to request a partnership for the solar electrification of Amui Dzor and demonstrate Ghana’s first multi-family housing facility to make use of a net metering and smart metering system. The community argued that the project would serve as a precedent-setting project for affordable low impact housing. The Energy Commission signed on with enthusiasm as did the Ashaiman Municipal Council, both agencies providing significant support to the project. The ground was set for project design and implementation.


The final project design not only reduces the energy tariffs of the cooperative, but increases their resilience to electricity tariff increases and outages. Although this project involves a building retrofit, the intention is for it to set a precedent for solar integration into all future low-income housing developments. The Amui Dzor project complements the Ghana Alliance’s efforts to extend access to household solar kits and lanterns. In all projects, the federation has trained members in solar system installation and maintenance.

The Ghana slum dweller federation efforts contribute to improved city resilience by increasing access to affordable and clean energy, improving skills and offering training in low income communities, and demonstrating effective mechanisms for partnership between communities and government.

This post is part of a series of case studies from our 2017 Annual Report titled ‘The Road to Resilience.’ Emerging from the field of ecology,  ‘resilience’  describes the capacity of a system to maintain or recover from disruption or disturbance. Cities are also complex systems and a resilience framework addresses the inter- connectedness of formal and informal city futures. Moreover, it enables a nuanced reflection on the nature of shocks and chronic stressors – recognising that the latter are particularly acute in slum dweller communities and that this critically undermines the entire city’s economic, social, political, and environmental resilience.As with personal resilience, city resilience demands awareness, acknowledgment of reality, and a capacity to move beyond reactivity to responses that are proactive, thoughtful, and beneficial to the whole. The most enlightened individuals and cities will be those that understand their responsibility to the most vulnerable and to the planet. Our 2017 Annual Report showcases some of SDI’s achievements over the past year on the road to resilience. Click here for the full report. 

iShack Project & South African SDI Alliance expand solar services to Longlands community


This material originally appeared on the iShack Facebook page. 

The Longlands community is a small group of households living in informal dwellings on the outskirts of Stellenbosch in South Africa’s Western Cape. The South African SDI Alliance has been working with the community since 2016 and is providing support to address their needs for basic services. Recently, the Longlands residents visited the community in Siqalo to see how Solar Home Systems (SHS) work. Following this visit, they decided to pursue the installation of SHS while they wait to be connected to the formal grid. It was at this point that the SA SDI Alliance and the Longlands community began to work with iShack to develop a plan to jointly provide solar electricity service to Longlands.

First, the community established a savings group, saving incrementally to generate financial contributions towards the cost of SHS for each household. In addition to these savings, the SA SDI Alliance provided grant funding and highly subsidised loans to each household to finance SHS installation.

As a result of these efforts, each household has now received a Solar Home System that powers lights, a television, and charges cell phones and other small media devices. Longlands is close to iShack’s operational base in Stellenbosch and a regular schedule of maintenance and monitoring, including a dedicated Hotline service for reporting any issues and bi-monthly drop-ins, has been planned. Maintenance is often neglected when offering technical solutions to low income communities, but the community-driven process implemented jointly by iShack and the SA SDI Alliance is all about sustainable maintenance service in order to ensure maximum durability and reliability. Capacity building and green skills development for local residents form part of the project, adding a job creation element to the project that enhances community ownership, resilience, and project sustainability.

[caption id="attachment_12552" align="alignleft" width="600"]Solar panels being installed on a shack rooftop. Solar panels being installed on a shack rooftop.[/caption]


At this point there appears to be only one major challenge: the community continues to await agreement from Stellenbosch Municipality to subsidise the ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the energy service – a subsidy provided to the 1500 households in the nearby community of Enkanini. Fortunately, the existing agreement between iShack and Stellenbosch Municipality makes provision for service extension to new communities, so there is reason to believe that the Municipality will agree. Longlands residents have submitted a formal request for this support and are waiting for a final answer.

In the meantime, SHS installations will continue. Last week, an Induction Workshop was held for the community, explaining the ins and outs of the SHS to residents and ensuring residents know how to get the most out of their new technology. Two additional pilot systems were also installed.

[caption id="attachment_12555" align="alignnone" width="600"]Longlands community learns about the iShack technology. Longlands community learns about the iShack technology.[/caption]


Although this is a small community project, it represents an important development for a service-delivery model in which communities – partnered with technical service providers and supported by capacity-building organisations like the SA SDI Alliance – take active steps to meet their development needs.

Learn more about the iShack project here and the South African SDI Alliance here.