Due to two consecutive years of severe famine (2015 and 2016) generally throughout the country, most remaining inventory from our Solar Phase 4 order was purposely held so that families should conserve all available funds for purchase of sufficient food. By February, 2017, it was clear that Malawi would finally have a good harvest in the coming months, so the Solar Phase 5 shipment was arranged.
This Phase 5 shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi in early June. This shipment, consisted of 600) K-016 solar home light systems, 192) L061 solar lanterns and 240 of the L058 table lamp
The funding for this shipment was mostly provided by the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Synod dedicated solar accounts, which was the accumulation of net sales profits from previous Project Phases.
The CCAP Church retained the sales model for the solar products to focus mostly on a cash up front basis. They included a maximum 3-month installment sale option where a product is paid for in full during that period before it is released to the customer. In the villages, the solar home system were still sold for $45, the lantern for $30, and the table lamp for $9 (all equivalent USD figures) Because of the2 year famine, Solar Phase 4 installment sales still experienced about 15% bad debts or delinquent payments, so the Project Coordinators decided to directly handle cash sales only to the community solar committees.
All sales revenues is being placed in a dedicated bank account with the expectation that 90% of revenue remaining be ultimately used to place another order, Solar Phase 6, next year. When all Phase 5 products are in use, it is expected the Project in total will have over 6000 units in service and be improving the lives, household economics, and educations of over more 30,000 Malawians living in about 80 rural areas without access to grid electricity.
When in Malawi in June 2017, Richard Keller personally visited some of these villages and schools gather information on the solar products impact. Reliability of the products continues to be exceptional. Of the 4500 units that have previously been in service, some up to 40 months, only 46 total have had reported technical problems. Most problems are still due to premature battery failure because of excessive light usage by customers. Other repairs were easily accomplished in the field. A cumulative total of 12 units have failed beyond repair from a premature component failure. These have all been replaced at no charge under manufacturer's warranty.
Trained solar technicians are still available to service units at key locations. But because the product reliability remains so high, there has been little demand for their services.
Locally, original equipment or suitable replacement batteries for all products are available from the Project or in major retail cities.
Malawi Solar Lights Project, Inc. is registered by the IRS as a 501.c.3 tax exempt charitable organization. The Corporation is also registered in the State of Colorado as a tax exempt charity..
A basic information website is established at www.malawilights.org so anyone can information about the Corporation and project.