Africa’s Next Cheap Source of Light


By Paul Ndiho
November 8, 2011
As power cuts persist, many Africans who can’t afford expensive generators or solar panels have resorted to torches made of discarded computer discs, strips of wire and wood to light up their homes.
Many homes and businesses are forced to rely on generators for electricity because of the lengthy and frequent power cuts that happen regularly in most African countries. Some areas go for days at a time without electricity. Millions who cannot afford generators use kerosene lamps or candles. In order to solve this problem I have invented a new environmentally friendly source of light, and I’d like to produce it on a large scale to help out struggling families in my country, Uganda, or across the continent.


My home-made torches have become popular with people looking for cheap sources of light. The torches cost between (1-3 US dollars) depending on the configuration of the bulbs. People who have tried it in my rural village in southwestern Uganda say the three-battery kind lasts for a month, and is much cheaper than kerosene lamps.
The idea for the torch started as a result of the lengthy and frequent power cuts I experienced when I was in Africa. As a young kid growing I was always bothered by the “frequent power cuts” or “road shading” I decided to apply my simple knowledge of generating more light from my High School science project. Several years later, it became a reality and many people have benefited from this clean source of light.
Students in remote villages use the torch to study at night and others use it to see while cooking. At the moment there is no mass production of the torch, but the people I have entrusted with the business of assembling the torch and selling it say they are able to sustain their families and the extra money is spent on taking their kids to school.
Environmental experts who have used it say it’s a solution for dealing with the frequent power cuts in most rural communities, it’s a change from the norm, and does not burn fossil fuels.
“Africa’s Next Cheap Source of Light” is an alternative source of lighting for poor people; it’s made from recycled products, is affordable and is a ready remedy for Africa’s unreliable electric power delivery.

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