Solar Solution to Lack of Electricity in Africa
After witnessing the struggle that African health clinics have to access electricity, a Nairobi, Kenya-based company has developed a simple solution to ensure a steady supply of solar electricity. One Degree Solar’s founder, Gaurav Manchanda, sells the Brightbox solar charging system for lights, mobile phones, tablet computers and radios.
A full charge can power two light bulbs for 20 hours. Manchanda told How We Made It In Africa that he has sold 4,000 units of the Brightbox since its launch in October. • onedegreesolar.com • clintonfoundation.org • howwemadeitinafrica.com
He first gained experience working in the West African country of Liberia with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Working at the Ministry of Health, he found that most health clinics operated without electricity.
He identified solar power as the only viable energy source. Trying to deliver fuel to power generators by the road network had two impediments: the diesel fuel was expensive and the road conditions were poor.
After seeing that large solar-powered systems required significant maintenance and upkeep, he started to explore the possibility of low-cost and simple-to-use solar electricity products that would be useful to community health-care workers.
The company’s main product is the Brightbox, a cleverly designed solar charger. A bright orange box with a folding, aluminium handle at the top for easy carrying, it switches on and off simply with a bright red button. It has a waterproof solar panel. The Brightbox has universal service bus (USB) ports so that mobile phones and radios can be plugged in. It is also possible to plug in four lights at once using the four outports on the side of the box.
The products are designed to be repaired using locally sourced parts and can be fixed by local electricians. – (June 2013)