DIY Solution Charges Mobile Phones with Batteries

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

There are now more than 3.5 billion mobile phones in use around the world. In the past five years, their use and distribution has exploded across the global South, including in once hard-to-reach places in Africa. In fact, Africa is the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market. Over the past five years the continent’s mobile phone usage has increased at an annual rate of 65 percent – twice the rate of Asia.

The world’s poor are creative users of mobile phones, adapting these powerful tools to help with business, saving and spending money, and communicating with the outside world. As powerful as mobile phones are, they need electricity to stay functioning. And it is the struggle to find a steady supply of electricity that vexes many in the South.

There are wind-up mobile phone chargers, solar powered chargers (http://tinyurl.com/bg3wac), and mobile phone chargers you wave about. But most of these devices are, to someone who is poor and living in the South, expensive and hard to find. So what to do when it is not possible to buy a solar powered mobile phone charger?

Necessity is the mother of much invention. And one inventing mother is Mrs. Muyonjo, a housewife in a remote village of Ivukula in Iganga district, Eastern Uganda. She used to ride her bicycle for 20 miles in order to get to the nearest small town with an electricity charger for her mobile phone battery.

If that wasn’t a struggle enough, she was one day deceived by a vendor running a village battery charger.

“I will never give my telephone to the village battery chargers again,” she told the Women of Uganda Network (www.wougnet.org). “I gave them my new phone for charging, and they changed my battery and instead returned to me an old battery whose battery life can only last for one day.”

Ripped off by the vendor and unable to find the money or time to charge the battery daily, she decided to find an alternative charging solution.

“I looked at what was readily available to me and came up with my own charger. I devised this method to enable me to charge my battery every day. It works perfectly.”

A simple solution that shows there is no need to be a prisoner of technology, just its adaptor.

Read these stories on ICT4D from Development Challenges, South-South Solutions:

  • African Online Supermarket Set to Boost Trade
  • Brazilian Solar-Powered WiFi for Poor Schools
  • Crowdsourcing Mobile Phones to Make the Poor Money
  • Entrepreneurs Use Mobiles and IT to Tackle Indian Traffic Gridlock
  • Illiterate Get Internet at Touch of a Button
  • Resources

    • Women of Uganda Network: an NGO initiated by women’s organizations in Uganda to develop the use of ICTs among women as tools to share information and address issues collectively. Website: http://www.wougnet.org/cms/index.php

    • MobileActive is a community of people and organizations using mobile phones for social impact. They have many tools, resources and contacts for Southern activists and entrepreneurs to use. They see the 3.5 billion mobile phones in the world providing unprecedented opportunities for organizing, communications, and service and information delivery. Website: http://mobileactive.org/

    • Textually.org: a very inspiring website profiling loads of innovations with mobile phones in the developing world. Website: http://tinyurl.com/bpo9kr

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