More than half a billion people are using mobile phones in Africa and the Middle East – a network growing much faster than the expansion of electrical grids in developing regions.
Rather than travel for hours, or sometimes even days, to find power needed for recharging personal devices, Simon Bransfield-Garth wants to tap into the sun.
His company, Eight19, is a photovoltaic (PV) technology developer that’s come up with IndiGo – a small PV cell connected to a battery that can recharge mobile phones.
"Our view is that PV has a huge role to play in developing economies," said Bransfield-Garth. "There is ample sunshine and the cost of energy is much greater than in the West. This enables a dramatic transition. Within a few years, a household with access to the Internet is in a completely different place to one without."
While most Africans would not be able to afford solar power technology, a week’s worth of power from the IndiGo costs one dollar on a pay-as-you-go plan.
The IndiGo is currently in trials in Kenya.