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article imageSolar cell phones introduced in developing nations

By Andrew Moran     Aug 21, 2009 in Technology
Kenya's biggest mobile phone company, Safaricom Limited, has introduced the nation's first solar-charged cell phone to avoid the hassle of electric-charged mobile devices.
There are many factors that Kenyans go through in order to communicate with others. People in small towns or villages have to walk miles to a mall to charge their cell phones because the electricity is non-existent in some parts of Kenya. Secondly, landline communications are not dependable and often become dysfunctional.
Safricom Ltd. saw an opening and immediately jumped on it. Kenya’s biggest cell phone company will release a solar-charged phone in Kenya, which also includes an electric-charger, for $35. Each handset device will come with solar panels, which charges the phone by using the sun’s rays.
Each device was manufactured by a Chinese company called ZTE corp. The Kenyan company will introduce an initial supply of 100,000 mobile phones in the market.
Safricom’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph told CNN, in a telephone interview, “People are excited about these phones. I expect it to be sold out in a week. The power crisis here has been going on for ages. Safaricom phone's solar panel is small and portable, unlike charging devices some Kenyans now use. There's an enormous need for a device like this. They will continue to charge on natural light, even on cloudy days.”
Kenya does have limited ability when it comes to power however; the nation has one of the largest cell phone markets in all of Africa with an estimated 17 million Kenyans using a mobile device.
Safricom is not the only company who is introducing this eco-friendly device. At global trade shows, several companies have touted their solar cell phones such as Samsung, who unveiled a solar-charged cell phone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. They also showed a sun-powered mobile device in India in June.
After successful runs, Samsung plans to launch similar handset devices in other Asian countries, Europe and Latin America.
Charging a phone can cost 70 cents per week (50 shillings) and now the solar-charged cell phone will pay for itself.
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