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GRID (General Recharging to Implement Development)

Solar powered unit for charging batteries (for cell phones and other items) to create permanent jobs in poor areas with no electric power available

Some of our students, during the training session in Burundi, underlined the fact that one of the greatest problem for users of cell phones in remote areas was the scarce opportunity to recharge the batteries of the device. From here the following idea arose.

The proposal

The proposal is to implement one system to charge cell phones’ batteries to create permanent jobs in Third World poor areas

Today many of cell phones’ users are forced to walk a long distance journey to come in a place where, paying a little amount of money, they can charge the batteries of their own items.

Some consumers, simply, are not in measure, for different reasons (age, conditions of health, roads safety etc.) to afford a journey for charging their batteries: therefore they are forced to pay a supplement for the transport of themselves and/or of their device. In alternative, they are not in measure to use their cell phone for a quite long time.

To bypass this EFrem has conceived the system, basically composed by a mini photovoltaic panel and by a number of sockets, worth to charge, contemporarily, some batteries, MP3, iPod, Digital cameras etc. The cost of the system is, for the moment, low.

The system is available for a number of users (few hundred) living in the same village or in the same area.

It should also be noticed that, in Africa, the social and charity bodies are the only realities always present in areas with no traditional electric power and, therefore, the only eligible candidates for distributing this system either in remote villages and/or in proximity of their existing relief structures (dispensaries, schools, hospitals, youth centers etc.)

The market

One quick feasibility study has been made and the outputs look interesting.

The system has been informally proposed to some Caritas, for instance in Ivory Coast, to the President of the Episcopal Conference of Senegal, to a Bishop in Burundi and to a Missionary congregation in Kenya: their comments are all positive (if not enthusiastic).

The number of cell phones in sub-Saharan Africa where there is no traditional electric power is in the order of some tenth of millions, with an annual growth rate of at least two figures.

If it is assumed, only for cell phones, an average of 10 batteries’ charges per year, the total will be of some hundred millions of charges per year.

This means, at the cost of few centimes of Euros per charge (the average price currently paid in areas with traditional electric power), that one business of few tenth millions Euros a year could be generated and the consequent occupation of some ten thousands people could arise. The full activity of the system is achievable in some years (4/8).

This is, to EFrem, the main reason for this project: to create, with low investment costs, new and permanent jobs in remote zones of Third World and, therefore, to produce a positive social impact.