Solar streetlights combating crime in Zimbabwean city

A $15 million project to install 4,000 solar-powered streetlights has been announced this week by the city council of Harare, Zimbabwe, as officials seek drastic measures to halt a recent rise in street robberies.

The crime-fighting solar lights are to be installed right across the Zimbabwean capital, with completion scheduled for early 2016.

"We are starting in the central business district; then we will move on to other parts of the city," confirmed Harare City Council media officer Michael Chideme. The project will be undertaken in partnership with a Zambian advertising agency, which has been tasked with erecting the street lights, which boast a single solar panel and small battery pack.

As well as helping to cut crime, the city council has calculated that these solar lights will shave around $200,000 each month off its electricity bill. “This is the sum Harare has been paying the power utility for the electricity that powers the current street lighting,” added Chideme.

The batteries installed in each lamp will enable the streetlights to power for between 10-12 hours daily, and can be remotely turned on and off. It is estimated that dearth of sufficient street lighting in the city has contributed in recent years to a rise in muggings and robberies – many of which have escalated into murder.

According to police statistics, violent crime in Harare soared by 37% in 2014 compared to a year previous.