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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid