From the Land of Cool: Solar Powered Phones

August 20, 2009

Kenya is the first country to roll out a new line of solar powered phones. Rural Kenyans, for whom power can be inaccessible and expensive, will be able to tap this natural resource for powering their phones. Launched by Kenyan telecommunications company Safaricom, the phone will cost under $40. Kenya has 17.6 million cell phone subscribers but just 1.3 million are connected to the national electricity grid. People have to walk long distances to charge their phone and pay third-party vendors for the service. Despite being inaccessible, power in Kenya has become very expensive. Most of their power comes from hydro-electric plants, but due to drought the power is being rationed. The shortage has spurred calls for greener energy sources—mostly wind and geothermal—and the production of solar devices like this phone. Americans use an estimated 200,000,000 kWh a year to power their cell phones, and an estimated 95% of the power drawn from chargers is wasted because users leave their chargers in the wall. Image Credit: