Published on July 23rd, 2012 | by Jo Borrás2
Let There Be Light: First SolarKiosk Opens in Ethiopia
To my generation, Ethiopia will always be “that country.” The one where the people have nothing, so you’d better be grateful and eat your vegetables, you know? During the famine that the country experienced in the 1980s, images of its people’s migration were burned into our subconscious by PSAs and “Feed the Children” commercials in between Transformers and Thundercats cartoons.
Things in Ethiopia have gotten somewhat better in recent years, but it’s far from an idyllic paradise: many of the country’s 80+ million inhabitants lack access to clean water, refrigeration, or even electric lighting. It’s still a rough place, in other words — but Graft Architects, a German engineering and design firm, thinks it has come up with a way to make life in Ethiopia a little bit better. It’s called the SolarKiosk, and the first one went “live” near Lake Langano, Ethiopia just last week.
Designed as an “autonomous business unit,” the designers of the SolarKiosk envision bazaars of ‘Kiosks’ (below) that would offer energy, products, tools, and services to “off-the-grid” areas without access to a stable source of electricity and lighting.
Each SolarKiosk ships equipped with a roof-mounted array of photovoltaic panels, and acts as a sort-of “energy hub” for the locals. Each energy hub, in turn, will generate enough power for night-long lighting, “jumping” car batteries, and refrigeration — which, otherwise, would be almost totally unavailable to many Ethiopians. “What we dream of is that these people, at night, can not only enjoy cold beer, but maybe they can even watch TV,” said SolarKiosk creator (and, apparently, beer enthusiast) Lars Krückeberg during a TED talk in Berlin.
The Graft firm is currently looking for investors to fund the next round of production and installation, and has made that prospect a bit easier by keeping setup costs relatively low. The creators designed the SolarKiosk as a light-weight structure that can be “flat-packed” as a kit of parts, which would then be assembled on-site using local materials and workers. In extremely remote locations, the SolarKiosk “kit” is light enough to be strapped to a donkey (That‘s in your press release? Really!?), so you’d have to assume helicoptering a kit in is also a possibility…. I’d still pay good money to see someone try to strap one of these to a donkey, though. Those things are mean!
You can see more of the innovative SolarKiosk in the photo gallery, below.
Source: Graft Architects, via Gizmag