Vodacom Tanzania Launches Solar Phone Charging

The leading mobile company in the country, Vodacom Tanzania has partnered with US-based energy firm Fenix International to launch solar and bicycle-powered mobile phone chargers from next month.

Tens of millions of people in rural areas have mobile phone handsets. However, they are effectively barred from using them because of nowhere handy to charge the device.

Approximately 600 million mobile phone users living “off-grid” spend TZS 16 Trillion (USD 10 Billion) a year travelling to a place where they can charge the device or power their handsets with car batteries.

Such partnership is expected to increase mobile use for some of M-Pesa’s 4.5 million Tanzanian subscribers. This will boost revenue in off-grid areas as the inhabitants will have widespread access to photovoltaic and pedal-powered charging stations through the roll out of ReadySet charging stations.

A ReadySet pilot programme took place in 2012. It demonstrated there is strong demand for mobile phone photovoltaic charging services amongst Vodacom Tanzania’s 40,000 sales locations.

Providing a cost efficient and energy efficient solution, the ReadySet charges multiple phones simultaneously. It is also capable of powering a LED light bulb, radios and tablet computers. The solar panel can charge up to 10 phones a day.

It will cost approximately TZS320,000 ($200) and can generate TZS 64,000 – TZS 80,000 ($40 – $50) per month for the shopkeepers of mobile phone charging. This will allow them to save up to USD 10 per month in kerosene fuel for lighting.