Although we have entered 2012 approximately 1.5 billion people around the globe remain without access to a stable or safe source of light. Commonly in some of the world's poorest regions, kerosene lanterns are the standard form of night time lighting, which leads to the possibility of fires, explosions, asphyxiation and toxic fumes. Cheap, accessible solar lighting presents an obvious solution to this problem and the latest tilt at making this a reality is WakaWaka - a solar LED lamp concept that can fit snuggly onto a soda bottle.
Similar to Solar Pebble, LuminAID and Sollight, the WakaWaka lamp is a solar charged, portable LED lamp that hopes to hit the market with a low US$10 price tag, which is the equivalent of 2-3 months worth of toxic kerosene fuel. Unlike its competitors, the WakaWaka promises to provide 16 hours of light from one day of solar charge. Solar Pebble comes close with 12 hours of light but the others fall behind with only 4-6 hours of usage time.
Outside of poor rural environments the WakaWaka makes for a convenient camping torch, outdoor accessory, bedside reading light or mobile phone charger (compatible with 80% of commonly used cell phone battery brands excluding iPhone). The light-weight lamp is equipped with a replaceable battery which is said to last several years when used on a daily basis. Should it run on empty when not used for a couple of months, the user can simply charge it in the sun for a couple of hours and it's good to go.
As part of a Kickstarter initiative, the WakaWaka creators will donate three solar lamps to the students and teachers at the Mwamtsefu school in Kenya for every US$125 pledge or more. Given that the team have already raised over US$34,000 we hope that means that a lot of lamps are heading to Kenya!
WakaWaka is headed by Camille van Gestel, a founder of Off-Grid Solutions, a company that creates feasible and affordable solutions for families who do not have access to electricity. If you want to support this project, WakaWaka Kickstarter pledges start from US$1 and the campaign finishes on January 7.