Breakthrough $5 solar light for use in rural Africa makes light more accessible to the 598 million people in Africa who lack access to electricity
SolarAid, the UK’s leading solar charity, is proud to announce the launch of the world’s most affordable quality solar light, the SM100, in time for its 10th anniversary. The new solar light was developed by Yingli Green Energy Europe, with the support of inventid, a UK industrial design agency, to meet critical price and performance specifications of SolarAid. SolarAid’s objectives were to provide a tough, durable solar light for use in rural Africa, which meets Lighting Africa standards and retails for $5 in Africa, in order to make electrical light more accessible to the 598 million people in Africa who lack access to electricity. SolarAid has reached over 10million people, by selling solar lights through its social enterprise SunnyMoney, since it launched in 2006. As part of the prestigious launch of the SM100 on the 4th October at the Bulgari hotel in Knightsbridge, London SolarAid also launched a new campaign to light up Africa, using their new #Powerof10 social impact platform, which makes it simple for users to build their own community of solar supporters. The #Powerof10 platform draws on Facebook, using supporters profile images to map out everyone in the community. When a supporter donates just £3 for one light, they are invited to share news of their donation with their networks and, as friends join, supporters can watch their personal network and associated social impact grow. SolarAid calculate that if 10 people from every supporters’ network join the #Powerof10 community (a tiny proportion of most people’s social reach) they could light up the continent of Africa with SM100 solar lamps, and eradicate the highly toxic kerosene lamp, in less than 10 ‘steps’ of social sharing. “It’s an ambitious plan,” said Nick Sireau, CEO of SolarAid “but the feedback we have been getting from our sales agents in Africa about the SM100 is very encouraging. In some places we sold out of stock almost immediately so we know there is a huge market for the SM100, especially at the $5 price point. When I first started at SolarAid 10 years ago the lights we sold in Africa were $25 each!” During August 2016 nine thousand SM100s were distributed in Uganda, Malawi and Zambia through SolarAid’s social enterprise, SunnyMoney, who sell lights via school networks and local enterprises. This first batch of lights were part of a sales trial, allowing SolarAid to gather customer feedback to incorporate into further SM100 design iterations. The solar-powered SM100 provides more than 5 hours of constant bright light and can be used as a traditional desk light, a head lamp or hung on the wall. # The SM100 will retail for £10 in the UK, providing SolarAid with the funds to distribute two more SM100 lights in Africa for every one that is bought in the UK. Oliver Sylvester-Bradley, Head of Marketing at SolarAid, said “The launch of the SM100 and the 10th anniversary marks a critical turning point for SolarAid. We are now in a position to push forward and catalyse more solar markets in Africa so we can achieve our mission and put ourselves out of business as soon as possible.” “The #Powerof10 campaign is a new approach to creating lasting social impact, which draws on social networks and makes it easy for people to support us and grow their own network of supporters. The impact maps show exactly where your donations go and you can literally track the growth of your own impact as your friends join your community. We really hope people get involved.” Yingli has committed to support SolarAid in their mission to eradicate the kerosene lamp. “The SM100 will provide safe light to millions more families who live currently on less than 1.25$ per day. Not only will the lamp save lives but also support children’s’ education at home in the dark evenings and saving families money by avoiding the purchase of air polluting kerosene”, says Darren Thompson, Managing Director of Yingli Green Energy Europe.