First SolarKiosk Opened in Ethiopia

{ Posted on Aug 02 2012 by Bill Zimmerman }

SolarKiosk, a modular business unit for Africa and off-grid areas anywhere in the world, recently opened its first kiosk near Lake Langano, Ethiopia. Following a period of design and planning, a privately financed company was formed to prepare the product for serial production by building prototypes and running pilots in several countries. The first prototype of the SolarKiosk was built in November 2011 and displayed in various locations, including the 2012 TedXBerlin conference. In March of this year, a subsidiary, Solarkiosk Solutions PLC, was incorporated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to run a pilot program. Construction of the first prototypes in Ethiopia began in April. Today, the kiosk is up and running in a new community.

The SolarKiosk is modular, able to be transported in a lightweight package to remote areas and is available in numerous configurations:

Much like a “platform” in the automotive industry, the basic model can be arbitrarily extended and modified, adapting to all kinds of uses depending on the local market, local tax benefits and so on.

Certain parts of the kiosk—the electrical components, in particular—are manufactured centrally to ensure quality and durability, but all others can be made of local materials such as bamboo, wood, adobe, stone, metal or even recycled goods. This makes the kiosk attractive for purchase or license by entrepreneurs and both public and private and institutions. It’s also possible to connect multiple kiosks to create a local grid.

Thinking about many a dark night I’ve passed in Cameroon, with container shops and call boxes lit by candles or kerosene lamps, the need for a solution like this is obvious. If the capital expenditure makes sense for business owners over the long term, SolarKiosks could become a viable alternative in on- and off-grid areas.

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I'm an engineer, ex-Microsoftie, founding board member of AfriLabs, co-founder of ActivSpaces in Cameroon and VC4Africa. Drawn to innovation, creativity & all things tech. More at