London 2 Cape Town- A Road Trip…

What is the longest road trip you have ever taken? LA to SF? LA to Denver? Chicago? NYC?

How about London to Rome? Cairo? Darfur? Nairobi? Cape Town?

This is just a brief outline of an incredible road trip a friend of mine, Ryan Sanderson-Smith, a fellow classmate from Cambridge and South African native, is doing. He is on a mission to not only live his wildest dreams driving in a 1989 Toyota Landcruiser but also to add a cause to it.

Unlike many of our class mates who have decided to go forward in completing a PhD, MD or work in a consulting company/bank/startup, Ryan decided to take a road trip with to  raise money for SolarAid- a charity that fights global poverty and climate change with solar power. He and two others are currently traveling to various SolarAid projects. SolarAid was in fact one of the charities we were in discussion with during the summer of 2008 when we were involved with the Amex Member’s Project.

I recently had a chance to catch up with Ryan. Here is what he had to say (with his massively thick South African accent of course)-

“we’re having an absolute blast, hittin africa hard.driving around in a landcruiser with 2 rooftop tents on it, 2 spare wheels, a long range fuel tank (175 litres); and 4 solar panels on the roof that powers the engine cooling fan, power steering, stereo and charges our laptops, phones, any other electronics, and a kettle! which means we use less diesel.”

We drove through france and italy in 6 days. then a week in tunisia visiting desert oases full of dates and salt pans. then a week in Libya visiting lots of roman and greek ruins (but ironically it rained the whole time). Then just over a month in Egypt traveling down the nile and going to the sinai peninsula. and have now been in sudan for a month, mostly in the capital khartoum where the blue and white nile meet.

The best part has been the people. they have been so kind, friendly, hospitable and friendly. have quickly made friends, who are showing us around sudan in style. next we will go to ethiopia, kenya, uganda, rwanda, tanzania, zambia, zimbabwe, malawi, mozambique and back home to south africa.”

All I can say is next time book me a spot for the trip! It’s fascinating to know that almost everything that they are using- cooling fans, mobile, laptops, kettle, camera, stereo, etc- are all powered by solar.

To support the guys check out:

and check out their website where you can connect to their Twitter (@overlandsun) and Facebook:

| if I knew all the words I would write myself out of here. |

Solar Powered Africa-LED Lanterns Lighting the Way…

I have been working hard recently with two friends, Nikhil Arora and Ryan Panchadsaram, to submit a proposal for a competition American Express is hosting in which they are donating $2.5 million to fund global humanitarian projects. The winners of the project are decided largely upon the number of votes and nominations from the public, so we would really appreciate your support as we try to bring solar powered lighting to Sierra Leone. All three of us strongly believe in the idea and would love to use the funding in order to make our project dream come true.


YouTube Video: Solar Powered Africa – LED Lanterns Lighting the Way

Project Team:
Ali Ansary, Nikhil Arora, Ryan Panchadsaram

Project Idea:

Our idea is to provide solar powered LED (Light Emitting Diode) lanterns to rural, war-torn regions of Sierra Leone. LED lights have shown to be a reliable and sustainable source of light with over 50,000 hours of available life. We would like to provide each household in various Sierra Leone villages with a lantern in order to provide light and make up for the lack of infrastructure. With $1.5m, we aim to provide approximately 20,000 lanterns, which could positively affect nearly 100,000 people.

The Problem:

In many underdeveloped nations of the world, finding a light switch that works usually comes as a miracle. Sierra Leone has suffered as being one of the most war-torn nations of the 21st century, and as such, faces serious infrastructure issues that deny many citizens the basic resource of light. Light for centuries has allowed life to become less dependent on the time when the sun is out and has extended the hours of the day to allow families to become more productive.

The Impact:

By introducing a sustainable, solar powered energy model for light, children can read at night, women and men can maintain their responsibilities to the family and community in the evenings, and life no longer remains dependent on non-renewable resources for light. If shown to be successful, we hope that with further funding we can extend this sustainable model of providing light to other under served regions of the world.

Light it up…
Please show your support for this project by getting involved and actually voting. Steps to vote:
1) If you have an AMEX card, go to , click
“Nominate this Project,” and then sign in using your AMEX account info
2) If you DO NOT have an AMEX card:
a. Go to :
and sign up.
b. Then, go to and click “Nominate this

Also, be sure to invite your friends to this facebook group.

If nothing else, we’re trying to create awareness about the issue so it might spark someone else’s imagination and a new, better idea to deal with this issue might emerge.
| if I knew all the words I would write myself out of here. |