This month, a small Moroccan village earned the distinction of becoming Africa’s first fully solar powered village.

32 solar panels were brought online and connected to a mini-grid system that delivers electricity to around 50 residents of Id Mjahdi, a small village near the seaside town of Essaouira.

The project cost just $188,000 to build and generates 8.32 kilowatts of electricity for the village’s 20 homes.

Surplus energy produced by the panels is stored in a battery system that holds up to five hours of electricity that can be used after the sun sets.

As part of the project, every home in the village was given an electric refrigerator, a water heater, television, oven, and electrical outlet to charge phones or other electric devices.

Previously, villagers had lived by candle light at night, and used wood from local trees for heating and cooking fuel.

The project was organized by the local energy companies Cleanergy and Cluster Solaire, with additional assistance from the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy. the French supermarket chain Intermarché, and the soaps company Le Petit Olivier.

The electricity will also be used to power a local training facility where some 30 women from the area will be trained in how to produce argan oil from nuts collected from the local argan trees.

Argan oil has become a prized ingredient in a number of beauty products and the hope is that argan oil produced in the village will be sold to Le Petit Olivier.

‘People that were not working at all and not having any sustainable revenue, the fact that they are working in their village and creating value is very important and very, very valuable,’ Cluster Solaire’s Fatima El Khalifa told CNN.

‘We created an association like a cooperative at the village and they own the whole production.’

Solar energy is a major focus for the Moroccan government as the sun is arguably the country’s most abundant resource.

Morocco is home to the world’s largest solar farm, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex, a facility that covers more than 3,500 football fields worth of land.

The facility saves the equivalent of 760,000 tons of carbon emissions from being released each year and generates enough electricity to power a city the size of Prague, or two cities the size of Marrakesh.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the county currently gets 35 percent of the its electricity from renewable sources and the government plans to reach 52 percent by 2030.

Cleanergy’s Mohamed Lasry hopes that Id Mjahdi will inspire people in Morocco and around the world to try and implement solar power in their own villages.

‘People change,’ he says, ‘they have more time, they can have money, they can go to the market, they can buy what they need.’ (Daily Mail)