The north-east of Nigeria is one of the few regions in the world where polio has still not been eradicated. Vaccination is critical to any eradication programme. However, vaccines must be kept at low temperatures right up to the point of use, if they are to be effective. But in rural Nigeria, the electricity supply needed to run a refrigerator is not reliable, and often not even available in rural areas.
KXN Nigeria, a local company, knew that vaccine refrigerators powered by solar photovoltaic (PV) modules could provide 24 hour reliability. With funding from the government and Rotary International, by 2009 they had installed 767 vaccine refrigeration systems, enabling immunisation services for a population of about 4.6 million people.
The refrigeration systems are not cheap at about US$11,000 each including the PV modules and rechargeable batteries. But as they provide life-protecting reliability, and as each one holds over US$5,400 worth of vaccines when full, the cost is not hard to justify. And in addition to polio vaccines, the fridges are used for tuberculosis and diphtheria vaccines.
In common with many such projects the innovation and manufacturing are half the solution. A supply of trained local technicians is critical to the installation and maintenance of the fridges. Working with the University of Maiduguri in Borno State and with BP Solar, KXN trained technicians to install and maintain both PV refrigerators and other PV systems, so widening the knowledge needed to back-up the project.