News / Science & Technology

Hydrogen Phone Chargers to Keep Africans Connected When Power Runs Short

FILE - A man inspects a mobile phone at a 'telecenter' kiosk in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.
FILE - A man inspects a mobile phone at a 'telecenter' kiosk in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.
Reuters
African smartphone users will soon have an alternative means to get around the power shortages afflicting much of the world's poorest continent - a portable charger that relies on hydrogen fuel cells.
 
British company Intelligent Energy plans to roll out one million of the new chargers in mid-December, mainly in Nigeria and South Africa, after successfully testing them in Nigeria over the last five months, its consumer electronics managing director, Amar Samra, said.
 
“In emerging markets where the grids are not reliable and people are using [mobile phones] as a primary device, it is mission critical; if you're out, you're out,” Samra said on the sidelines of a telecoms conference in Cape Town.
 
The chargers are designed to back up the spread of smartphones and tablets across countries where cellphones have already helped to transform lives and businesses.
 
Industry body GSMA, which represents about 800 of the world's mobile operators, said in its latest report that smartphones were key to boosting mobile Internet access in sub-Saharan Africa where current penetration of 4 percent of the population lags the global average of 17 percent.
 
Ericsson predicts that smartphone traffic in Africa will increase tenfold between 2013 and 2019, when around 476 million devices will be in use.
 
“Alternative sources of power are very important, because smartphones and other devices need lots of power and you need to charge up every four hours, so for a businessman it is crucial,” said Melvin Angula, an engineer attending the conference.
 
The hydrogen chargers, which fit easily into a handbag, consist of a fuel cell and a non-disposable cartridge that can be detached when exhausted.

Search for ‘right price’

Samra said consumers could expect to pay less than $5 dollars to “refuel” a cartridge of the charger.
 
This would translate to a cost of less than $1 to charge a phone, he said, adding that final costs would ultimately depend on how telecoms companies marketed and sold the product.
 
Samra said that if bought over the counter, the entire device will cost under $200, although options being considered include $10 a month for a two-year contract or getting it for free.
 
“We always have problems with cell batteries, so everybody will be keen for portable energy. But, it has to be the right price for it to fly in our markets,” said businessman Thabo Magagula, who also attended the conference.
 
Besides Intelligent Energy, Japan's Aquafairy has also been developing fuel cell chargers, Samra said.
 
Other companies, such as Dubai-based developer Solarway, have launched solar powered kiosks designed for communities that are not linked to a power grid, each capable of charging up to 40 cell phones a day.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid