Yosef Abramowitz, a Boston University Alumnus, is an "entrepreneur, an educator...and innovator who sparked a solar revolution," using Israeli technology to help the people of Rwanda. His solar panel technology will provide 10 percent of Rwanda's total energy.
This is a different kind of technology that will work in all sorts of kinds of light. Tonight we're leaving to Rwanda to the tigers a Shalom youth village where we're going to install the first kilowatt of solar power. The atmosphere in Rwanda is different than these other countries - being under the equator and being in the African dust belt - we don't know exactly what to expect. It's a thin film and we're about to learn how to use it. So, you're going to lay the powers out such that these plugs are all at the same end, and then you will connect the panels together - one to the other - using the female than male connectors. So, you just make a series? Exactly. I can't believe it, I'm so excited. We thought the best place to start in Africa would be in Rwanda, eighteen years after their the genocide. Rwanda has a unique and deeply tragic history, and yet, it's a history that we, the Jewish people, kind of understand. A friend of mind, a real hero, a real innovator, built a youth village - the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village - in Rwanda. I'm sure Yosef heard about what I was doing, I suddenly heard about what he was doing. I am Ann Hamen, I'm the founder of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. It was really the connection between the Holocaust genocide orphans, and I can't understand why we can't learn from each other. We need to put these kids in an environment where they're given a value system, where they're given support, where they're given education. I went to Israel to see if there was a model to follow. She took Israeli innovation - how you raise a generation of orphans - and has brought that model to Rwanda. It's a very expensive model. This technology doesn't only work in direct sunlight, but also works when there's clouds. Everybody has to help, and we're gonna unroll it to the other side. It made sense to connect what he was doing with what I was doing and Yosef said, "no, I'm working on bringing these solar farms to Africa," and, "what do you think?" That was the beginning of a beautiful thing. We're going to take off the covering paper. What we're doing is opening up the world to potential solar power Agahozo-Shalom and the students. There is going to be multiple blue-collar jobs created because that, as well as high tech jobs, and I think, just simply exposure to a project of this scale, is going to, hopefully, propel them into places in their life they didn't even imagine when he first arrived here. We looked at 75 markets around the world, which is half the planet, doesn't yet have commercial solar power. There are 1.6 billion people on the planet today without electricity. 1.6 billion. I can't even, I can't even picture that. Looking at the hungriest people on the planet is the same people you look at who don't have clean water. It's the same people. This is all preventable, it's all preventable. The government has asked us to build the solar field. It will supply about 10 percent your entire country's energy. We did all the feasibilities - the environmental, the soil sample, the grid study, which is complicated, and we're going into final negotiations. Not only is this site here going to be the first solar PV site in Rwanda, but specifically in the East African region and in sub-Saharan Africa in general. We'll start with this one. You wanna peel it off- For an innovator, like Yossef, to come to Rwanda and employ technology that has been used before, but to here, where no one else has tried to do it, that is innovation. This is the model for development project: let's build a solar field that will generate income to build the village. What we do here, at Agahozo-Shalom, is much more transformative to change the world. I think all innovators fail - myself, many times, included - but our- this story line cannot fail. You build the solar field than maybe 100, maybe 1,000 and Africa's gonna look different. I'm already the luckiest guy on the planet - I am - I have a great family, I'm part of a people that's always been a part of progressive, social movements. I don't know what the future will bring, but I know that what I'm doing now it feels like such an incredible privilege, that I have incredible people that I have partnered and that my family supports me in, you know these quixotic quests that, somehow, still manage to move forward. This little lite of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. I like to be a catalyst. I wanna show people its possible. I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine. Yosef's team and the Rwandan government are in final talks. Now, if all goes well, the field will be finished by the end of the year, providing eight percent of Rwanda's energy. Also in the works, fields in Romania, Haiti, and a dozen other countries. You see, Yosef is an entreprenuer, an educator, an activist, and, perhaps now, the innovator who sparked a solar revolution. That's what earned him a spot on the Next List. I'm Sanjay Gupta. We'll see you back next week.