Filibaba Assessment – Day 1+2
Emily and Matt arrived in Zambia and met with Steve and Likonge around 1 PM on Monday March 23 at the Ndola airport. After making a stop at CopperBelt University in Kitwe to drop off Likonge’s colleague Chilala (acting chair of the ECE dept), we proceeded north to Chingola. Since Matt and Emily were fresh off the 35 hour trip, Monday night involved only a quiet night at the Protea hotel – we knew Tuesday would be a big day.
Tuesday was our first trip to the site location. Filibaba is a sprawling framing community centered approximately 10km northwest of Chingola; most locals make a living by selling maize and home-made charcoal in the Chingola markets. Their community center is located in a 3-room brick schoolhouse on a large plot of land designated by the local council for community activities (school, women’s/youth development, learning trades, etc). We arrived at Filibaba around 10AM after a bumpy drive with Likonge, and spent the morning with the local council members (Mr. Chanda and Mr. Fulaulo) assessing potential kiosk locations. Our consensus was to share the west wall of the schoolhouse, which already possesses an excellent north-facing roof ideal for solar panels. With the help of Mr. Chanda, Mr. Fulaulo, and a few of the skilled villagers we sketched out a preliminary design for the kiosk and developed a full list of materials required for an initial quote (to be handled by Mr. Chanda). As it turns out, while we were talking the Filibaba women had been cooking up a huge lunch for us and we ate chicken, cabbage and chima (Zambian staple food – basically a highly viscous maize paste). After lunch, we conducted a focus group with a selection of community members to demonstrate the operation of a solar battery kit, to refine our preliminary business model data, and to gauge their opinion of the project. They were highly involved and interested in the project, and reiterated that they passionately support the opportunity to develop a solar community. Overall – a busy and successful day. Tomorrow we go back to Filibaba for a longer meeting with the community, and are looking forward to hearing more good questions about the project.