The story of looking into this project started when I travelled on the Kariba ferry where Mabasa was part of the crew.
The crossing is from Kariba to Milibizi, both in Zimbabwe, cruising the length of Lake Kariba from the Kariba Dam Wall all the way near the Victoria Falls. It takes 23 hours and I spent most of the time with the crew, learning about the lake navigation and the activities around.
From the captain/navigation room, we had a beautiful view of the lake, but also of Maya’s roof which lead to discussion about solar energy… because we could see the solar panel very well…
When night arrived, we came to cross quite a few kapenta fishing rigs and I learnt about their fishing techniques. Often, we were not close to them, but we know they are there as we hear them long before seeing the lights.
In a nutshell, the technique for Kapenta Fishing is to use lights at night to attract the kapenta toward the net and then pull the net up to catch them.
The fishermen use powerful lights on the boat and net, powered by a generator. Those diesel generators are very noisy and pollute the environment. As the fishing is conducted throughout the night, the generator functions 10 to 12 hours a day (night). And the fishermen are thus exposed to noise and fumes all nights for extended period of time. This is without even considering the environmental pollution and the financial cost of running the generators.
When we arrived in Milibizi the next morning, Mabasa asked me if I could look into the possibility to use solar energy instead of diesel generators for fishing. And so I came back to Kariba a few months later to start learning about kapenta fishing and gather information.