Appeal to fund solar street light project

Published Jun 15, 2024


Durban — A Durban engineering student is raising funds to donate solar street lights for use in the areas most affected by last week’s storm and tornado in oThongathi.

Keyuren Maharaj, 21, a project manager with the MS Foundation of Sustainable Energy (MSFSE), a non-profit organisation founded in 2022 to address the lack of access to energy in rural areas, said their goal was to raise funds to donate 50 solar street lights for the disaster-hit area.

The storm destroyed homes, schools, roads, bridges, community halls and electricity infrastructure. People lost their lives and hundreds of families were left homeless.

Last week Maharaj started crowdfunding on Gogetfunding to raise R300 000 to cover the cost of 50 solar street lights and 50 solar flood lights for areas in oThongathi.

Maharaj opened solar power company Kolar Energy last year and runs the MSFSE alongside it.

"I am working closely with the Tongaat Ratepayers Association, other local civic organisations, and the eThekwini electricity department to ensure the lights are installed where they are needed most. This is an opportunity to raise funds and show the benefits of how this light works. Currently people are living in total darkness with no power after infrastructure was damaged. Crime thrives and more accidents happen in the dark,“ said Maharaj.

He said the primary objective was to enhance safety, security and economic development in the area, addressing the critical issue of failing lighting infrastructure.

“KwaZulu-Natal is one of the most populous and culturally diverse provinces in South Africa, known for its vibrant communities and rich heritage. The region includes bustling urban centres like Durban, as well as extensive rural areas where agricultural activities form the backbone of local economies,” according to the appeal on the GoGetFunding page.

“However, the disparity in infrastructure development between urban and rural areas is stark. Rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal face persistent challenges due to underdeveloped infrastructure. Many of these areas are not connected to the national power grid or suffer from unreliable electricity supply, leading to frequent power outages.

“The lack of stable electricity hampers economic activities, healthcare services, and overall quality of life. Moreover, the region’s topography and dispersed settlements make the extension of traditional power infrastructure both costly and logistically challenging,” the appeal said.

A solar street light.

Maharaj, a UKZN third year mechanical engineering student from Glenwood, is working with Lungelo Myeza, 28, a community development professional with expertise in marketing and communication.

Maharaj said their ultimate goal was to provide businesses and homes with lighting that was low maintenance and from a sustainable energy source.

He said they would also focus on projects in rural areas where most people did not have the luxury of light.

Maharaj said the lights cost R5 500 each, were easy to install and had no underground or pole cables.

“Impact tests, dangerous material tests and water proofing tests have been done on these lights. They have a wider angle of illumination, motion sensors and timing sensors. We will be installing one in oThongathi next week. We hope to get businesses to buy a light and donate it to the foundation,” he said.

Jay Govender, secretary of the Tongaat Ratepayers Association, said this initiative would definitely help their community.

“The first light will be installed on a street near the home of a widow who has been pleading for three years for street lights. There is no lighting in the area and her home has been burgled. After people see the impact this solar light makes, we hope more people will sponsor them. If places are lit up, it would deter criminal elements from those areas,” said Govender.

Anyone wanting to contribute or donate can go onto the crowdfunding page: or contact Kolar Energy Pty Ltd via email [email protected]

Keyuran Maharaj with a panel for the solar street light. | Supplied

Independent on Saturday

Related Topics:

storm damage