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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Canadians create solar charger for Tanzania

A new piece of technology is improving the lives of people in northern Tanzania by providing them with a non-polluting source of electrical power dubbed the "hockey puck."

Adam Camenzuli (pictured) of Ontario is the executive director of the supplier of the technology, Karibu Solar Power. He said the company concluded people wanted better access to power for their cellular phones and to have light in the evenings.

His brother Brian designed the product. It's yellow, about the size of a hockey puck, and attaches to and charges from a solar panel.

"In the box, there are two hockey pucks, and each hockey puck can charge phones and provide up to 10 hours of light, as well as a solar panel" said Camenzuli.

Camenzuli has ties to Cape Breton, including a set of grandparents from the island. He's also received business advice from Cape Breton University professor Kevin McKague, whom he met several years ago.

He is making plans with Cape Breton University's Island Sandbox to receive its help in further developing the product.

Hours of light
The brothers' initial plan was to sell the kits only to entrepreneurs, who could create a small business offering a charging service for a small fee.

"A person from the community would go to the entrepreneur and give them a little bit of money, about the same as they pay for kerosene," explained Camenzuli. "They would be able to charge their hockey puck and take it home and use it."

Karibu Solar Power started with 2000 kits in Tanzania, and Camenzuli said demand is growing now that the word is out about the product.

"Families want to use this too," he said. "So now we go door to door via a motorcycle in rural villages and we sign people up to buy these solar kits and a lot of people want to put them on the roof and then have the option to charge their phone or have light during the night time."

A second shipment of the solar kits is scheduled to arrive in the next few days — 4000 units this time, at a unit cost of less than the Tanzanian equivalent of $20 (about 44,000/-).


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