by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Communications Coordinator
According to an October 2010 Wireless Intelligence report, Latin America is now the second largest wireless consuming region with more than 530 million users representing over 11% of the global market. There was also exponential growth noted in the Caribbean region. With prices of phones ranging from USD$30 – USD$100 or more, it is evident that even impoverished people with limited resources will find a way to invest in products they consider important to their lives. This market penetration of cell phones may well serve as a model for selling other high-benefit technological products, but it also provides a significant incentive for the successful introduction and adoption of solar technology, in that all these cell phones need to be frequently and consistently recharged. For the many rural people living off-grid, this is often a considerable problem requiring frequent resolution with associated financial and time costs.
At Trees, Water & People, we are working to address this issue by providing innovative new products such as solar lanterns with phone charging capability, making it possible to fulfill the increasing need for phone chargers, while at the same time introducing solar technology that provides additional economic and educational benefits, such as allowing families to work or study at night. These gateway renewable energy technologies are opening up great possibilities for lower carbon growth and development while improving access to modern energy products, services, and business opportunities to those currently without regular access.
Our new project will utilize our community development experience and new partnership with experts PowerMundo to provide a variety of inexpensive, high impact “Cleantech” products (i.e. items that improve household productivity and efficiency while reducing energy consumption, cost, waste, and pollution.) These will include items such as solar lanterns, solar cell phone chargers, solar panels, and human powered radios.
As Carl Pope recently wrote in Yale Environment 360, “More than a billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. The best way to bring it to them — while reducing greenhouse gas emissions — is to launch a global initiative to provide solar panels and other forms of distributed renewable power to poor villages and neighborhoods.”
We are proud to be a part of this global initiative, helping to bring impoverished families in Central America access to one of the most basic resources: energy.