Vodacom to Sell Solar Chargers for Phones in Tanzania

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Vodacom Tanzania and energy firm Fenix International have entered into an exclusive agreement to launch ReadySet mobile chargers in Tanzania from next month.

The portable phone charger, powered by a solar panel or bicycle dynamo, will provide a much-needed solution for the millions of off-grid mobile customers who travel miles to access electricity. Globally, more than 1.3 billion people live without access to electricity and there are 600 million mobile phone users living off-grid who spend an estimated $10bn a year on charging phones using petrol generators and car batteries.

Vodafone is estimated to have over 100m off-grid subscribers worldwide. In Tanzania, only 14 percent of the 46m population are connected to the electricity grid.

A ReadySet pilot in the Pwani Region of Tanzania in 2012 found the device to be an enterprise opportunity for small business owners, including Vodacom Tanzania's 40,000 M-Pesa agents. A commercial initiative, this is expected to increase mobile use for some of M-Pesa's 4.5 million Tanzanian subscribers and boost revenue in off-grid areas. The pilot saw airtime vendors and M-Pesa agents offering ReadySet charging increase airtime sales and SIM registrations, with a 14 percent increase in average revenue per user.

The ReadySet is simple to use, charges multiple phones simultaneously and powers lights, radios and tablets. The solar panel charger - which charges up to 10 phones a day - will be available first and the bicycle dynamo will launch later. Five to 10 minutes of cycling provides enough energy to fully charge a mobile. An included universal battery charger enables customers to leave just the mobile battery with the vendor and an included LED light enables businesses to remain open into the evening. Shopkeepers said this saved them up to $10/mo. in kerosene fuel for lighting. The ReadySet will cost around $200, enabling vendors to earn $40-$50 a month from phone charging.

Rene Meza, Managing Director, Vodacom Tanzania, said: "ReadySet is both a commercial opportunity and a simple technological solution aimed at significantly improving the lives of off-grid mobile customers and small business owners seeking an additional revenue stream. It provides off-grid consumers with a cost efficient and energy efficient solution - and increases access to mobile services such as M-Pesa."

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Vodafone ReadySet

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Tags: vodacom  Tanzania 

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