One of the agendas at the massive India-Africa Forum Summit which is underway in New Delhi is to form a Solar Group of countries. India's proposal aims to see more than 100 countries situated between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn working together to harness the power of the sun.
With representative of Africa's 54 nations arriving in India as part of the forum, New Delhi is also using the opportunity to point out the progress it has already made with solar energy, that too in Africa. An initiative by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will see the visiting first ladies of African heads of state being taken to an exhibition of a program run by the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan.
The college, which started in 1972, is run by activist and educator Sanjit "Bunker" Roy and aims to teach rural people skills regardless of gender, caste, ethnicity, age or schooling. Since 2005, the college has been training poor, rural women from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to become solar engineers. The six-month long training course is designed for rural women who are either completely illiterate or at best semi-literate. The college website says that the program has reached more than 140 women from Africa so far.
The solar project's Africa version is also called Solar Grandmothers since a lot of the women are quite old. In 2012 a documentary on the project called Solar Mamas was released, which gave viewers a sense of how the college worked.