Net1 Mobile Solutions has created a solar-powered lamp and charger, the ‘Sun-e-light’, giving rural households access to solar lighting as well as affording them increased digital connectivity.  The lamp operates as a mobile phone charger and wi-fi hotspot giving users access to the internet. The idea behind the Sun-e-light was to provide connectivity to rural communities who aren’t connected to the national grid.

“We began talks with a production company in China which specialises in producing simple yet innovative products to produce a prototype [of the Sun-e-light] for us, which has now been refined and tested over a period of two years,” said José Carlos Da Silva Soares, Net1 chief marketing officer.

“Accessibility and connectivity will enable these communities to better themselves and those around them, and this can ultimately lead to a hugely positive spin-off effect”

“Our particular focus leans towards learners, entrepreneurs, vendors and job seekers.”

According to South Africa Info, ‘The solar lamp is a 3G-enabled modem which acts as a wireless router that can be accessed via wi-fi and potentially even Bluetooth.’

Net1 will rollout 2000 lamps, and will continue with deployment depending on demand. The lamp provides 16 hours of light when charged for 8 hours.

“We are trying to make acquiring a lamp as easy as possible, and have thus enabled features on our USSD [unstructured supplementary services data] platforms that permit people to request a lamp directly from their mobile phone.”

The Sun-e-light with wi-fi feature will be available to the wider South African market should the rollout go well said Soares.