Despite the ubiquity of cellphones, most people in Africa still need to travel great distances each time they need to charge their battery, a fact of life for many living in remote Kenyan Villages, where an estimated 17.5 million people out of Kenya’s 38.5 million population own a mobile handset – up from 200,000 in 2000. And once they reach a charging location – typically shops that utilize a car battery or solar panel – charges can take up to an hour and cost around $2, which although a necessity, represents no small fee.
Having grown up in similar circumstances, two university students, Jeremiah Murimi, 24, and Pascal Katana, 22, wanted to make a difference in the lives of rural villagers. The result, a pocket-sized, bicycle-powered charger that was developed using homegrown innovation along with parts salvaged from the junkyard. Though similar inventions already exist in other African nations, none have been sold in Kenya until now.
The engineering students from Nairobi University plan to sell their chargers for $4.50, roughly the cost of two charges. While the pair has only built two units thus far, they have orders for 20 more and recently received backing from Kenya’s National Council for Science and Technology. Down the road the students hope to find a way to mass produce the charger and make them more widely available.
[image via Lukas on Flickr]