Solar Mamas: Women solar engineers transforming East African villages

East African women are learning solar power engineering and taking the knowledge they acquire back to their villages to bring light in to homes and to gain sustainable employment.

Barefoot College in Zanzibar choose marginalised rural women from villages across East Africa – where many homes are primarily powered by candles and paraffin lamps – to train at the college on how to install and maintain Solar Home Lighting Systems (SHLS). After five months of training, the women earn the title of Solar Engineer, locally known as “Solar Mamas”.

The philosophy that underpins Barefoot College Zanzibar is that by educating rural women, they will, in turn, become the chief changemakers in their communities.

Since the programme was launched in Zanzibar, more than 30 women have been trained to become Solar Engineers, over 800 solar panels have been installed and about 4,000 people have benefited from clean, renewable energy.

Barefoot College, which started life in India in 1972, demystifies and decentralises technology and puts new tools in the hands of rural communities with the aim to increase self-sufficiency and sustainability.

Image Source: Barefoot College

Barefoot College

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at

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