Vodacom has inked a deal to bring R199 solar phone chargers into Africa. (Supplied)
Cape Town – Local mobile giant Vodacom has inked a deal with US-based World Panel to sell a R199 phone solar charger dubbed the ‘Sunstream’.
The charger is said to ‘stream’ electricity directly from the sun into mobile devices using USB charging standards.
The device requires no chipsets or PC boards and it charges at “near the same speed as a wall plug”, according to a World Panel announcement at AfricaCom in Cape Town.
The technology is also said to circumvent chipsets and PC boards which can break on typical solar charging devices, said the company.
“I originally visited Africa with a solar prototype for household purposes and was consistently asked by residents whether it could charge their phones,” said World Panel chief executive officer John Anderson in a statement.
“I’ve returned with a product that is essential for anyone who owns a mobile phone but who has limited access to dependable energy sources,” he said.
World Panel said it secured a US patent earlier this year and holds 20 design patents worldwide in countries such as India, Japan, Europe and China.
Meanwhile, select Vodacom stores are expected to stock the device. Vodacom has operations in South Africa as well as other African markets like Tanzania and Mozambique.
“We are honoured that Vodacom has joined us as a retail partner and are looking forward to reports on how the SunStream is changing lives and delivering energy independence across the African continent,” said Suraya Hamdulay, executive head for Vodacom Sustainability in a statement.
The solar phone charger is being launched into an African market that has growing numbers of phones but critical energy shortages.
Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to have one billion mobile subscribers by 2021, according to Ericsson’s 2015 mobility report.
But around 25 countries in the region are facing an electricity crisis marked by rolling blackouts, according to the World Bank.