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James van der Walt

Social Entrepreneur, Ugesi Gold

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Level 1 Social Entrepreneur - Gaming principles to solve rural electrification in Africa.

I'm working on a battery charging station social business for rural electrification. A good analogy is that of a water-well. The small utility business (micro-utility) is started by the locals who sell electricity. This serves as the source of electricity (well), which the local community visits with batteries (buckets) for recharging. These battery packs are then taken back home where they can power smaller electrical appliances like lamps, radio, small TV etc.

There's a massive brain drain from the rural areas as young people migrate to the cities where they believe to find a better life. Unfortunately this is not true and millions end in the slums. We have to stop this and I think gaming coupled with social business is the key. If we can make community upliftment projects fun for the locals they will have a higher success rate. Rural electrification fail because there is a lack of ownership and fun. Free electricity does not work. There must be community involvement. Gaming principles might help.

So how can I make this project into a game? I'm hoping you would help me brain storm a bit. Here are some random ideas.
- Get experience points for charging a battery (both for the users and the utility business)
- Achievement for the longest lasting battery
- Once though experience is earned the user can spend points to either get a bigger battery or maybe even his own solar home system.
- Make the utility business money free. Use a trading system as seen in games. Ie. they trade their skills or goods to get electricity. This will help get rid of that notion "I am poor". So put everyone on the same playing field.
- Start organic farm as a source of good to trade. (Goods trading as in WOW)
- Good gathered at the utility can be sold to the cities to stream money back into the community.
- Bring in an auction house so skills can be traded locally?
- Once the rural-utility reach a level they can start another utility. They can maybe share XP as incentive?

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    Mar 22 2013: question...are you saying free electricity does not interest rural peoples? I will help you desgn ideas ,but your short form is not good for me..I am not able to figure out exactly your brilliant idea
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      Mar 23 2013: Hi Carolyn
      Of course free electricity is desired but it's not sustainable. It's the difference between giving a fish vs teach how to fish. The talk on when NGOs fail illustrated the problem. Transfer of ownership is vital if a long lasting solution is needed.
      As for the short handedness, I couldn't type anymore. I'm limited by word count. However, click on my name and you can go to my website. There's plenty more info there. :)

      The game theory might be the key to a higher success rate... People want instant gratification which is the core behind the fun of games. If using the batteries and maintaining the system is fun maybe the social business will grow and more can be taught and rural electrification will spread

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