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Uganda Gets Solar Powered Cell Phones at Price of an SMS

buffalo grid.jpg.492x0 q85 crop smart 300x200 Uganda Gets Solar Powered Cell Phones at Price of an SMSThe importance of cell phones in many rural areas in Africa is increasing with more and more people starting to rely heavily on them. However, a limited access to he power grid, makes it difficult to have the life-saving device constantly charged.

In addition, in many of these areas, charging  a mobile phone could be a luxury, especially considering that there are many who live on less than a dollar a day.

An incredible innovation tested in Uganda, however, could provide a cheap solution to the problem.  A solar power station, which is activated by a text message, at the price of this text message, allows people to charge their cell phone for 1.5 hours. Although one text might not be sufficient to fully charge a phone, the difference in pricing is huge.

The solar power station is called Buffalo Grid. It is fitted with a 60-watt solar panel and travels on the back of a bicycle. If the station is fully charged, it can provide enough power for 50 or 60 cells for a period of three to four days. An LED light indicates that a text message is received.

Daniel Becerra from Buffalo Grid hopes that cell phone carriers will support the innovation. His argument is that instead of paying for charging, people will be paying for usage.

The trial is going to expand to other African countries, such as Sierra Leone, where paying bills using the cell phone is a very common and necessary practice amongst farmers.

A final question: what if the battery runs dead, and you can’t send an SMS?

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About the author

Mila is a researcher and scientist with a great passion for soils, rocks, plants, water and all environment-related aspects of our surroundings. For the past 10 years, during the course of her educational and professional development, she travelled all over Europe, Africa and Asia, driven by her passion for the environment and urge to seek challenges.


Comments

1 comments
cindy
cindy

Great last question. Did Buffalo Grid have an answer to that? 

Please consider checking out www.sunfunder.com to learn more about other similar social enterprises and directly support them in their efforts to spread solar energy to off-grid communities. Through SunFunder’s platform, anyone can invest in off-grid solar companies to grow and scale their operations, and investors get repaid back in one year. This way the global community can be directly involved in expanding universal energy access, one loan a time.

- Cindy Nawilis
Community Engagement, SunFunder

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