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A 250Km bicycle ride dubbed “Cycle for Light” which started in Rhema village located 230Km north of Addis Ababa in the North Shoa zone of the Amhara regional state ended at “Solar Valley” head office, exhibition and training center of they Solar Energy Foundation in Ethiopia. It is located in the Tatek Industrial area, Burayu Zone of the Oromia special zone just outside the capital city on October 10th.
The trip which covered about 250Km was organized by the Dutch and Ethiopian Branch of Solar Energy Foundation. They collected more than 10,000 euros in donations to finance small scale solar power projects in rural areas of Ethiopia. Ambassador Hans Blankenberg said the cycle trip was a novel way of disseminating information about the needs, uses and benefits of solar energy to a community.
“Dutch people are crazy about cycling,” joked Blankenberg adding that the Netherlands has more bicycles than people.
Noud Henuelmans Chairman for Solar Foundation Netherlands who also participated in the cycle ride said eight people, including one woman, had taken part in the race in addition to seven supporting staff. This kickoff event was being held to publicize and raise funds for solar projects his foundation is currently engaged in.
He also said a part two event featuring a similar bicycle ride across the country is being planned for next year with a similar aim in mind.
“Six months ago when I contacted my local colleagues about a long cycle tour they were surprised Noud said adding that some of his colleagues assumed that the trip was for motorbikes.”
Solar Energy foundation is an international Non Governmental Organization established in Germany in 2005 with the main goal of electrifying rural areas by using solar energy technology and lighting. Its first project started in 2006 in Rhema village, which has a population of 10,000 people. Despite its small population its 2,100 households make it the largest village in Ethiopia with solar lighting.
The foundation has evolved its work to include a revolving fund scheme in which about 20,000 solar lighting systems was distributed to different parts of the country located in the four main regional states as well as a training program for solar technicians. The four main regional states included in the scheme were the Oromia regional state, Amhara regional state, the Tigray regional state and the Southern Nations and Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State.