Solar Electric Light Fund Honored

From among 460 nominees worldwide, the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) has been named one of 25 finalists for a 2002 Tech Museum of Innovation Award. SELF is one of five “Laureates” in the award’s Equality category…

Washington, D.C. – October 15, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] From among 460 nominees worldwide, the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) has been named one of 25 finalists for a 2002 Tech Museum of Innovation Award. SELF is one of five “Laureates” in the award’s Equality category. High tech leaders and delegates from the United Nations will honor all 25 Laureates on November 7 at a black tie Awards Gala in Silicon Valley, California attended. The gala will culminate with presentation of a US$50,000 cash honorarium to one Laureate in each of five categories. The Solar Electric Light Fund was nominated by physicist and Templeton Prize-winner Freeman Dyson, who particularly cited SELF’s bold work in rural South Africa. As a legacy of apartheid, thousands of schools serving rural blacks still lack electricity. In very poor KwaZulu-Natal Province, SELF helped Myeka High School acquire solar power not only for lighting, TVs and VCRs, but also satellite Internet access. The benefits have been dramatic, with sharp gains in enrollment, test scores, graduation rates, and students going on to college. In announcing the 2002 Laureates, the Tech Museum also took note of SELF’s decade of achievement in a dozen other developing countries, including a recent effort in Brazil. There, SELF teamed with Caboclo Indians to bring solar electricity to the richly biodiverse Xixuaú-Xipariná Ecological Reserve deep in the Amazon rainforest. The new solar array powers satellite Internet access for distance learning, telemedicine, and scientific research, along with lights, a water pump, and a refrigerator for vaccines and snakebite anti-venom. “The project has revolutionized life here in the Reserve,” says Joao Soarez Gomez, a tribal elder. The annual Tech Museum of Innovation Awards are presented in partnership with the American Council for the United Nations University and Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society. The awards honor individuals and organizations from around the world who are applying technology to profoundly improve the human condition in the categories of Education, Equality, Environment, Health, and Economic Development. This year, a panel of distinguished judges considered over 460 nominations, representing 59 countries. The 25 Tech Laureates for 2002 come from Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United States.

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