Islamabad - A project has been introduced to spread benefits of solar energy across rural areas of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The basic objective is that by using solar energy , women can improve their financial condition and help minimize energy shortfall situation in areas with limited electricity. The mechanism of the programme called - Solar Bibi - is that women would be taught how to operate and maintain solar charging stations in their homes to earn a decent living.

The project - a joint effort of Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) and Ministry of Science & Technology - is set to expand to other areas as well where women are forced to stop working after sunset due to absence of electricity.

Head of e-Solar project, Fateema Aneela yesterday said its name was chosen to especially target women in rural areas. She said in coordination with PCRET around 1,000 women would be trained as Solar Bibis all over Pakistan.

An official of Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) said the project would change thousands of lives especially that of widows who work hard to make both ends meet. Training sessions for the programme have already started with an initial batch of 50 Solar Bibis.

Director General Centre of Information Technology (CIT), Islamabad Ammar Jaffri said according to the World Bank, about 44 percent of households in Pakistan are not connected to the grid and more than 80 percent of those are in rural areas. “Our target is to provide sustainable energy to off-grid areas and we especially want to empower women in these areas through the project,” he said.

With such huge numbers, a project like Solar Bibi has the potential to transform life in rural areas. It can address a social problem as well as lack of proper infrastructure in certain regions of Pakistan. But most importantly, it can empower a lot of women entrepreneurs from the rural areas, helping them contribute to the local economy.