Remember Econet’s Green Kiosk chargers? A Swaziland based company has just launched a solution along those lines, with the only difference that theirs is just the charging solution and it can be conveniently carried around easily. It’s called an eChaja and it basically simplifies solar charging into a small unit that individuals can buy as a “Business in a box” solution. Think the airtime vendors at street corners!
The solution makes sense if you understand how people in an area that’s not covered by the national power grid charge and use their phones. Usually its a case of fist buying a phone that’s got a robust battery – which rules out smartphones – and then, to charge it most people have to take the phone to the nearest market center where local small grocery shops have electricity or a proper solar powered premises. But the local market can be many kilometers away which leaves mobile users either with uncharged phones, or just having to deal with this huge time wasting inconvenience. How big a deal is this? Econet says they lose at least 20% revenues annually to uncharged phones!
The eChaja comes in as a solution to this. According to the company the eChaja was designed and built in South Africa and is specially designed for rugged use. It comes in a portable suitcase to be bought by individuals that want to turn charging phones into a small business. The unit can be set up anywhere outside to start charging phones immediately. According to their site the eChaja has 6 cigarette lighter sockets that accept standard cigarette lighter phone chargers normally used in cars. You can read more about the eChaja here.
The eChaja is made by a company called Mikro Lite and it is available to either buy or rent from them. We tried to get the price from them but they hadn’t responded by the time we published this. If they do we’ll update the article.
Update: they responded, here:
a unit costs complete as per the web site
- 1 x echaja
- 6 x cell phone charging cables
- 1 x 40watt folding solar panel with on panel MPPT control which is buck boost to 35volts
- 1 x shoulder bag for the solar panel
- 1x hiviz apron
- 1 x eChaja cap
- 6 x eChaja tokensEx works price is E5,000.00 (5 thousand Emalangeni) or Rands. Ready to use.A optional hi power led light and shade is an additional E195,00
6 thoughts on “African company introduces solar powered ‘business in a box’ phone charger”
this is an ok idea. though i see a flaw in it….. would you be brave enough to leave your phone to charge with some random dude you see on the street? a thug could turn this into a very elaborate venture of stealing peoples phones
This system is designed primarily for the rural areas and similar systems work very well in East Africa without any significant theft issues. Remember this is usually a community based enterprise.
In rural communities, people know each other and coming home, econet is putting up branded fixed structures for aspiring entrepreneurs so there is no random guy anywhere.
The echaja solar charger is expensive, but worth it.
We are launching a wall mounted charger later this week, but most importantly the system may be expanded to run a TV and additional charging stations and LED corn lights. As the controller is on the panel, this is a very economical option to upgrade..We are now looking for Zimbabwe agents for these products.
The eChaja is entered in the SA Innovations summit..take a look at http://innovationsummit.co.za/2013/inventors-garage-competition/
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