Solar powered phones improving Kenya’s communication links
Alago Alba, living in a marginalized village in the North Eastern region of Kenya, provided for her family by turning to renewable energy. Her village lacked a workable connection to an electricity grid and like many Kenyans; she could not afford the high costs of obtaining a main connection.
Alago’s job as a stock trader required the use of a mobile phone, which runs on electricity, to keep track of stock arriving from Isiolo, the nearest urban center. She solved her problem by purchasing a cell phone that recharges on solar energy. Such a device also saves her from traveling the dangerous stretch of road prowled by bandits.
Telecommunications company Safaricom (under UK’s Vodafone) and Kenya’s Mobitelea Ventures invented the phones to help Kenyans stay in touch and improve communications making them faster and reliable. The phones are completely eco-friendly, assembled from recycled electronic waste and fitted with a useful charger that stores energy after absorbing sun rays. For charging their phones, users do not have to gain access to a main connection or to pay for an electricity service at a shopping center
The Director of the climate change office in Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources commends the phone as a brilliant innovation. It offers a solution to the increasing power outages in the country as well as fulfills stipulated environmental goals. The solar rechargeable phone benefits the urban poor who have to endure electricity rationing.
The phone is very affordable, and will help reduce the marginalization of struggling Kenyans. Positive effects have influenced the Kenyan government to examine the potential of solar power to meet the population’s energy needs. The government believes in investment in renewable energy to supply electricity in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. It is pushing for a greater role for hydroelectric power; unfortunately Kenya has limited water resources. Reasonably, solar power is an opportune and attractive proposition to secure Kenya’s future.