A new solar powered lamp described by its manufacturers as “the world’s most affordable solar lamp” is now available for purchase across Africa.
Inventid, a U.K.-based consultancy firm, has designed the SM100 solar light, which is retailing for $5 (£3.85) in African countries.
According the BBC, the lamp was developed in collaboration with Chinese manufacturer Yingli and the charity SolarAid.
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Manufacturers say, fully charged, the portable SM100 can provide more than 8 hours of bright light per day. It also comes with multipurpose functionality and can be used on a tabletop or hung from the wall. It even has strap slots that make it adaptable as a head lamp when tied to a bike.
The new eco-friendly lamp is now available on sale after a successful “sales trial” in 2016, which saw the product tested by 9,000 families in Uganda, Malawi, and Zambia.
Solar energy has long held the promise of providing a clean and efficient alternative to lighting millions of homes in rural Africa that are off-grid or unconnected to power lines.
However, the relatively expensive cost of basic solar installations slowed the spread of the technology among the poor and underserved who largely subsist on less than $2 a day.
At a relatively affordable cost of $5, the SM100 lamp could prove the game changer that could light up millions of homes on the continent, improve air quality, and save the money spent on fueling kerosene lamps.
Henry James, one the co-founders of Inventid, explains, “Kerosene keeps families locked in a cycle of extreme poverty with almost one quarter of their monthly income spent burning the fuel.
“To break this cycle we worked with Solar Aid, the UK’s leading solar charity to design a light that the poorest families could afford. This meant designing a light that could retail for $5 in Africa.”
James and Bryn Morgan co-founded Inventid in 2012, and since then, the company has worked closely with charities in Africa to develop an efficient, durable, and affordable source of lighting.
“We gathered local insights in to family routines, the layout of dwellings, and environmental conditions. We listened to the aspirations and ideas of people whose personal experiences have shaped a product that is co-created in Africa,” James said.
“We are talking about parts of the world where people live on $350 a year.
“We have never heard of a sales trial this so far-reaching. It had to be totally right if people were going to adopt the light and introduce it in to their lives and their daily routines.”
The SM100 lamp has won several distinctions, including second place in the Sustainability category of the European Product Design Awards.