Soccer Sunshine: Game On in Africa’s Largest Slum


The World Cup finals are Sunday and, if you’re like me, you’ll think nothing of picking up the remote and tuning into the game. In fact, as usual, I probably won’t think much of flipping a lot of switches this weekend – my coffee-maker, laptop, electric lights; hell, my Prius, the electric wonder that will probably scoot me out to stock up on chips and guac before game time.

Which is why the following has me thinking. According to UN-Habitat, an estimated 560 million people live without electricity in sub-Saharan Africa (this year’s World Cup is taking place is in South Africa), including residents of Kenya’s Kibera, the largest slum settlement in the region. Situated in Nairobi, Kibera is “home” to almost one million people and only about 20 percent of people residing there have electricity.

In light of what it means to live without electricity, I know the tournament doesn’t even register as a footnote when seen in terms of life’s necessities. But there are lot of people residing in the Cup’s host continent, including a lot of kids no doubt, with a passion for the sport that I can’t even begin to fathom, who are cut off from witnessing sports’ – their sport’s – greatest spectacle.

A little ray of hope, however, comes from, a Swiss nonprofit organization that started the Kibera Youth Solar Project, which is training Kiberan kids to “assemble and repair solar technology.” To televise the games locally, Solafrica has worked with a couple dozen youth to help them hook up “open-air” television sets and projectors to a solar power-station with photovoltaic solar panels and batteries. At the end of the World Cup, the station (which can provide light and charge mobile phones and other small devices) will be installed in a nearby school to provide power for a number of local needs.

“The Kibera youths have now conquered the power of the sun,” said Solafrica Executive Director Joshiah Ramogi, who spun the group off from Greenpeace, which is also involved in supporting the effort. Quoted in Techworld, he added, “We want to show the residents of the slums the benefits of solar technology. We want to convince them to adopt new solar LED technology that will benefit them and their children.”

Image: Dundas Football Club

Scott Adelson

Scott Adelson is EcoSalon's Senior Editor of HyperKulture, a monthly column that explores opening cultural doors to initiate personal change. He is also the author of InPRINT, which reviews and discusses books, new and old. You can reach him at