WakaWaka solar led lamp aims to light up Kenyan school
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.
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The economies of scale are very hard to beat, so piggybacking on existing products can often save a lot of time and money.
But yeah the pathway lights reincarnated as night lights sounds more cost effective - toss the junk nicads, put in decent 25Kmcd LEDs, decent solar cells and higher charge density NIMH AA\'s...
And sell them for $5 each.
Except for the switch - these are more or less identical.
If you read the linked article you will see this is a world class offering, and IMO worthy of backing.
Imagine that a light could allow a student to study at night,, get a better job, support their family etc. Wow.
It sounds like they\'ve chosen the el-cheapo rubbish batteries for this (\"Should it run on empty when not used for a couple of months\").
Folks shipping things to the 3rd world should take more care to send quality equipment that\'s going to last. A few cents more to produce will make for devices that last 10 times longer and are at least twice as useful in general (eg: not going \"flat\" from disuse). It means nothing to us to buy a new one when our die, but 3rd world peoples don\'t have this same opportunity, so don\'t put them in that position to start with.
But no one knows the best allocation of resources better than the end user. That\'s why the market is always the best way to determine what is the most efficient usage, not a well meaning, but far removed charity worker with top down thinking. The states started out as a backward agriculture economy. They didn\'t develop with charity. Or bureaucracy. It was a lack of government which grew much slower than the expanding population that resulted in a de facto freedom from regulation and taxation. When government caught up after a century we began to lose our freedom and prosperity.
This kind of well intentioned stuff has a limited life span and mostly ends up as waste unless it is regularly looked after (maintained, repaired and replaced) and that is not a common state in Africa. I know, I've lived there over half a century.
Getting a basic solar charger system with battery and simple lighting going on a sustainable basis is as good as I think we can get; the same goes for heating water in a simple manner. The higher tech options (see below for the exception) have a very variable life expectancy, usually tending to very short, don't kid yourself that this is not so.
I wish it were not so but who knows when or whether this will change in a hurry - the one tech revolution Africa has taken on board are mobile phones. This is a response to the abysmal telecom monopolies that still curse the continent, GSM really has had an impact at the lowest level, no matter how corrupt licences etc have proved to be at the political and business end - the "pay or transfer money by phone" solutions are excellent!