Kenya’s long-term development programme dubbed Vision 2030 aims to transform Kenya into a middle income country by the year 2030. The Vision comprises of three key pillars: Economic; Social; and Political.
Under this vision, energy has been identified as one of the infrastructural “enablers” upon which the economic pillars of this long-term development strategy will be built. Currently, the energy sector in Kenya is largely dominated by petroleum and electricity. In most rural communities, urban poor and even the informal sector, wood fuel is providing the basic energy needs.
An analysis of the national energy shows heavy dependencies and other biomass which account for 68% of the total energy consumption. Petroleum and electricity account for 22% and 9% respectively while others account for only 1%.
Most consumers who cannot afford electricity have however opted for solar panels and other solar powered products which have less hustle when it comes to cost. Several organisations have also invested heavily in developing these products, one of the being Mwangaza Light, a company started in 2014 and working towards bringing solar products to both urban and rural areas in East Africa.
Its mission the company says is to make high quality solar products within customers reach to improve customer family, economy, education health and safety.
The company boasts of several solar powered products including The SunBell, a detachable light that can easily be hung around your neck. The light features Samsung’s LED’s light source which light up the road ahead of you. The Sun Bell also has a USB adapter making it possible for charging your phone. It also comes with a 1.8 W solar panel made of a hardened glass cover. Other features include a LiFePOA 1400 mAh, SunBOOST3 Technology for Max Powerpoint tracking and battery protection.
Apart from just the safety and health benefits The SunBell comes with its is able offer to the LED lamps can light up a big space and give bright, concentrated light for even huge families.
‘’One quality solar lamp can save 4 years expenditure on kerosene or candles and phone charging’’ Catrine Shroff, the Managing Director at Mwangaza Light says.
Another product from Mwangaza Light is The SunTurtle, an adaptable LED Lamp that can be fixed to the wall or ceiling. It also has a Flexfoot making it possible for it to be used as a table stand. Despite its small size, the SunTurtle can also light up a room. It comes in a UV resistant ABS plastic housing, LiFePO4 400 mAh battery and a 0.6 W Solar panel.
Designed in Norway, these, The SunBell and The SunTurtle have also won a number of international awards thanks to their innovative design and functionality. “ In 2011, The SunTurtle was awarded the prestigious ‘Red Dot Award’ for its product and design,” says Shroff adding that the SunBell Solar Lamp and phone charger designed and manufactured by Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) member, BRIGHT Products won the IDZ “Usability Award” under the IFA electronics show in Berlin.
The UX Design Awards honour outstanding design and user orientation in products, digital solutions and services. The competition is bestowed annually by the International Design Center Berlin (IDZ)
Since the SunBell and SunTurtle were first launched in May 2014, BRIGHT has delivered more than 300,000 solar lamps, reaching some 2 million people across the world and resulting in improved family economy, education, health and safety
Solar energy continues to deliver cheap and reliable energy and according to Mwangaza, they want to be part of this. They say that they want to make many people especially those living in rural areas and are unable to access electricity able to enjoy the same benefits those with electricity enjoy.