British company, Intelligent Energy, plans to roll out 1 million of world’s first hydrogen chargers in mid-December, mainly in Nigeria and South Africa, after successfully testing them in Nigeria over the last five months, its consumer electronics managing director, Amar Samra told Reuters.
The portable chargers are designed to back up the spread of smartphones and tablets across countries where cellphones have already helped to transform lives and businesses.
“In emerging markets where the grids are not reliable and people are using (mobile phones) as a primary device, it is mission critical; if you’re out, you’re out,” Samra said on the sidelines of a telecoms conference in Cape Town.
Industry body GSMA, which represents about 800 of the world’s mobile operators, said in its latest report that smartphones were key to boosting mobile Internet access in sub-Saharan Africa where current penetration of 4 percent of the population lags the global average of 17 percent.
Ericsson predicts that smartphone traffic in Africa will increase tenfold between 2013 and 2019, when around 476 million devices will be in use.
“Alternative sources of power are very important, because smartphones and other devices need lots of power and you need to charge up every four hours, so for a businessman it is crucial,” said Melvin Angula, an engineer attending a telecoms conference in Johannesburg.
Samra said that if bought over the counter, the entire device will cost under $200, although options being considered include $10 a month for a two-year contract or getting it for free.
Samra said consumers could expect to pay less than $5 dollars to “refuel” a cartridge of the charger. This would translate to a cost of less than $1 to charge a phone, he said, adding that final costs would ultimately depend on how telecoms companies marketed and sold the product.
Other companies, such as Dubai-based developer Solarway, have launched solar powered kiosks designed for communities that are not linked to a power grid, each capable of charging up to 40 cell phones a day.
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