In South Africa, access to electricity for households has increased from 77.1% in 2002, to 84.2% in 2016 (as published by Statistics South Africa). However, as the statistic indicates, there are still areas within the country that do not have access to electricity.
This is the case for a Muslim mosque in a township called Kwathema, located in the east of Johannesburg, where the mosque had no access to electricity due to land ownership issues. This meant prayers in the morning and at night could not be held as it becomes too dark with water getting too cold to use to wash hands and feet before prayers in winter, and this caused all prayers had to be held during daylight time.
Before becoming a Muslim community’s place of prayer, the building was a surgery run by a Muslim doctor for more than 20 years. When he decided to move from the place more than 8 years ago, he offered the place to the Muslim non-profit organisation; South African National Zakah Fund organisation (SANZAF), to be transformed into a mosque in order for the community to continue to benefit from this place as there was no other Mosjid (mosque) close by for Muslims as this was a fairly small and new township at the time.
Since it was established 8 years ago it has been transformed for more than the religious purposes but also serves as the community centre, afternoon study centre with football and netball court and a water garden where members of the community grow produce to feed their families with others using this as a small fresh produce business helping to reduce poverty and also empowering small businesses.
The building has two sections for prayer, a room for the caretaker, a kitchen, toilets and a multi-purpose room for all other activity required by the community and so all that was missing was electrical energy, hence when this was presented by SANZAF to EWB-Wits we were very excited to jump in with ZP Energy company (which is a company of experienced engineers that bring renewable energy solutions to such problems) “to fill a need”.
The objectives were to design a sustainable renewable energy solution for the general energy requirements independent of the municipality. Using solar energy was found to be the most practical solution for lighting and plugs and a hybrid solar plus gas geyser considering the location and circumstances of the community as well as investment wise. This project took approximately 2 months to execute working with the ZP Energy team, which left the Muslim organisation and people in the community with more possibilities for activities and what they could do.
The project is however still continuing as more challenges found at the mosque as it continues to grow will require engineering expertise and as much involvement as possible in order to fulfil their goal to making the Mosque a place of value for the community.
1. The South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF).
2. Zero Point Energy.
Other articles on this project can be found on:
1. www.zpenergy.co.za (on their news page)
2. www.irshaadv.com (Report from the ”solar face”)
Written by Vuma Ntobela on behalf of EWB-Wits.