Africa's solar-powered way to keep vaccines cool

It takes a boat to get fisherman Antoni Fianni his new freezer.

His home is located on an island in southern Ivory Coast and it's not connected to the electricity grid.

That's why Fianni's freezer is a little different.

It's solar-powered.

The "Koolboks" freezer is an African solution that could have another use – storing vaccines.

It was developed by Ghana-headquartered PEG Africa with people like Fianni in mind.

It's an affordable way to store perishable items in remote and off-grid locations.

"Some of the fish we smoke to conserve it longer or we put ice so we can keep it for two or three days before going to deliver at market. Today the cost of buying the ice is a bit high so we are looking at working with the solar-powered freezer."

Today Fianni can store his catch for at least ten days before taking it to market.

He and his wife pay for the Koolboks via regular instalments.

Fianni is using his freezer to store fish, but PEG Africa's CEO for Ivory Coast Thierry Adonis say such cold chain technology is particularly important amid the global health crisis.

"And if we don't have, if the relevant departments and the health ministries don't follow this cold chain logic, then clearly people living in the more remote areas will not have access to the vaccine."

PEG Africa is currently piloting the solar-powered fridges and freezers in Ivorian and Senegalese fishing communities.

With funding from Power Africa, a network of private and public groups set up by USAID, PEG has also started providing solar-power systems to off-grid health centers.

According to Journal Global Health: Science and Practice, nearly 60% of healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity.

That means the Koolboks could be a useful tool to ensure more of the population gets protected.

Video Transcript

- It takes a boat to get fishermen Anthony Fiani his new freezer. His home is located on an island in Southern Ivory Coast, and is not connected to the electricity grid. That's why Fiani's freezer is a little different. It's solar pad. The cold box freezer's an African solution that could have another use, storing in vaccines.

It was developed by Ghana headquartered PEG Africa with people like Fiani in mind. It's an affordable way to store perishable items in remote and off-grid locations.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

- Some of the fish we smoked conserve it longer or we put ice on it so we can keep it for two or three days before delivering to market.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

Today, the cost of buying the ice is a bit higher.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

So we're looking at working with a solar powered freezer.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

Today, Fiani can store his catch for at least 10 days before taking it to the market. He and his wife pay for the cold box via regular installments. Fiani is using his freezer to store fish. But PEG Africa CEO for Ivory Coast Thierry Adonis says such a cold blockchain technology is particularly important amid the global health crisis.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

THIERRY ADONIS: If the relevant departments and the health ministries don't follow this cold chain logic then clearly people living in the more remote areas will not have access to the vaccine.

- PEG Africa is currently piloting the solar powered fridges and freezers in Ivorian and Senegalese fishing communities. With funding from PAR Africa, a network of private and public groups set up by US aid, PEG has also started providing solar powered systems to upgrade health centers.

According to the Journal Global Health Science and Practice, nearly 60% of the health care facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity. That means, the cold box could be a useful tool to ensure more of the population gets protected.