With 600 million people in Africa still without electricity and relying on expensive kerosene for lighting, the invention of a new high-quality solar light gives hope for a better quality of life for the poorest people of the continent. And with solar light design and quality constantly improving and prices falling, a brighter future is more affordable – and can even turn a profit for householders. The new £4 ($5) lamp now on offer in parts of East Africa was created by Inventid, a company based in Manchester, UK, and has undergone trials with 9,000 families in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia. The SM100, as it is called, is now being made in China by the solar giant Yingli and distributed in Africa by the charity SolarAid. The lamp is small enough to be used as a hand torch or a bicycle lamp, and has a stand which lets it be used as a table lamp or overhead light. It is tough enough to survive being dropped, or drenched in rain. SolarAid, which has been pioneering the sale of solar lamps to poor communities in Africa since 2006, says the new model gives twice the light of a kerosene lamp and and, over its five-year guaranteed lifetime, saves a ton of carbon dioxide for each kerosene light it replaces. Although it is a charity, rather than give the lamps away SolarAid prefers to sell them at cost, creating trade in the economy. Each lamp sold at £4 generates £145 in cash for food and essentials in East Africa, it says. Jeremy Leggett, founding director of SolarAid, says there are not many social-benefit paybacks as good as this in the world today: “We know that much of the money saved is spent on food and seeds. This is a great way to help people help themselves while famine stalks the continent.” Most people without electricity in Africa live on less than $1 a day, and buying kerosene takes up around 15% of their annual income. The SM100 runs at full power for up to eight hours when fully charged, and will also charge mobile phones. As well as helping people escape from poverty, the lamps also help to improve their health; kerosene fumes damage eyes and lungs. The light also allows children to study after dark.
Climate News Network 5th June 2017 read more »