SUN-CHARGED PHONES IN NAMIBIA
Solar Energy Powers Cellphones
Wezi Tjaronda, 26 January 2009 (New Era of Namibia)
"Solar cellphone chargers are proving to be worth investing in…Daniel Diogenius, proprietor of D Barber Shop and Cell Phone Charger in Otjomuise suburb made more than N$16 000 within nine months of starting his solar cellphone charging business.
"In 2006, the Desert Research Foundation Namibia (DRFN) started investigating the viability of solar cellphone charging shops as an approach towards establishing Energy Shops in Namibia as specified in the Off Grid Energisation Master Plan.
"Diogenius’ shop is one of the three shops operating in Windhoek…for the purpose of charging cellphones and cutting hair…Diogenius used to get between 20 and 30 clients a day when his businesses started early last year, a number that has risen to 80 clients a day."
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"Two cellphone charging shops that the DRFN monitored in 2007 generated N$2 723 and N$804 over 11 and five months respectively.
"A solar cellphone charging system comprises 10 charging sockets and two lights. The system can charge about 20 cellphones per day and provide electricity for three hours for each light, replacing the need for candles or gas for lighting. The system can accommodate any type of cellphone DC charger.
"DRFN is now looking for funding to establish a further 10 solar services shops in Namibia…DRFN’s objective is to determine how different small-scale renewable energy technologies can be used to create an income for small and medium enterprises in unelectrified areas and thereby encourage entrepreneurship and economic development…"
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"In Namibia, 30 percent of all households, or less than 11 percent of rural households, have access to electricity. The Rural Electrification Distribution Master Plan identified 5 858 unelectrified rural settlements, but of these only 1 543 are scheduled for electrification in the next 20 years.
"The rest, which comprise more than 106 000 households, will not be electrified within the next 20 years and have been designated as off-grid areas…it was within the off-grid area that solar cellphone charging business offers the greatest scope.
"With an investment capital of about N$5 000, an entrepreneur can earn about N$7 300 per year by charging five cellphones per day at a cost of N$4 per cellphone. Since it uses the sun, which is free of charge, the business accrues no power costs…the business can pay back its investment capital in about a year, with the return on investments being about 82 percent…"