Solar4Africa.org which is a small solar charity working on innovating solar technologies for low-income rural communities in rural Malawi is leading six student projects in partnership with EA at UC Berkeley

Details of the projects are listed on the Solar4Africa.org website:

https://www.solar4africa.org/technical-details/fall-2023-student-projects

The first project (Project #1) is to start developing use cases for actually applying digital currencies (like the newly launched Worldcoin) to the benefit of rural Malawian households. Worldcoin claims that it "[A]ims to create universal access to the global economy regardless of country or background, accelerating the transition to an economic future that welcomes and benefits everyone."  The first student project will start developing use cases that might meet such aims in the rural Malawi context. 

The next four projects are different versions of cost-effectiveness analyses for different Solar4Africa.org global health and welfare interventions. The interventions considered in the four projects include:

  • Small solar vehicles for providing non-emergency patient transport to rural clinics and hospitals in Malawi, Africa. 
  • Subsidized solar pumps for income generation for low-income rural farmers
  • Energy-efficient off-grid solar electric cooking systems
  • Very-long-lasting solar "forever" batteries

The Project 6 is a sort of "meta project." The goal of Project 6 is to define in detail a "poverty reduction  credit" (PRC) that is analogous to carbon credits but for poverty reduction.  Such a poverty reduction credit would use the same EA global health and welfare quantification system as GiveWell which is we might call "cash transfer equivalents."  And such poverty reduction credits would be priced at the cut-off threshold used by GiveWell to select its top charities.  Currently this threshold is 10 times as cost-effective as cash transfers.  Therefore the first version of a PRC will pay $1 for every $10 of new income or benefit that is generated by a poverty-reducing intervention that is targeting very-low-income households.

The current plan is for the students working on these projects to first post a detailed description of their project and the approach that they plan to take on the EA forum in a few weeks.  Then they will do more research and work on the project, respond to forum comments and produce a final EA post at the end of the semester. 

So keep an eye out for project posts that should start showing up on the EA forum in a few weeks from the various students working on the projects. We hope the community will provide lots of good feedback and recommendations to the students.  

Anyone who has concrete suggestions and recommendations for the projects, please leave them in the comments, or you can send me a private message on the forum. 

Thank you to the EA community  for any assistance you might provide to this effort. 

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