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NY Times: Solar pays for African poor
Published: January 6, 2011
Low cost solar systems transform lives in Africa.
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Financial payments in Africa are now available by cell phone. Cell phones are now a common way of receiving and sending small transfers of money inexpensively. In addition, cell phones allow people to communicate with each other and check on product pricing. For the poorest people far from the electricity grid cell phones are the next best thing to a computer with an internet connection.

Phones that act like a mini computer, bank and home office all in one are becoming a critical affordable link to the globalized world that that poor are forced to compete in. For the rural poor who need the services of a cell phone the next requirement is an ability to keep the phone charged. Until recently long multi-hour motorcycle trips into the towns were required to find grid electricity for a few hours of charge time at cost of up to $20 per week mostly just to make the trip.

Recently a Chinese company has been able to supply rural areas with a solar power system for charging phones and providing a little lighting to these remote areas not serviced by the electricity grid for about $80 per system. It doesn't take long to for this to pay off given the high cost of getting to a town for charging. In addition people are finding that they can reduce their demand for kerosene and batteries for lighting by as much as $20 per month. Now, for the next ten years there is lighting to study by at night and a cell phone that is charged and ready for action when needed as a mini computer that allows access to the global internet and modern communications capabilities that reduce costly travel by motorcycle.

Check out the NY Times Video

Photo Credit By Wegmann (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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