Samsung Electronics’ Built For Africa products are designed to capitalise on one of Africa’s greatest resources – the sun’s energy.
“The number of sunny days per annum is high for the African continent. With approximately 2 500 hours of sunshine per year, and an average solar-radiation level ranging between 4.5 and 6.5 kWh/m2 in one day, this places the continent in a very favourable position,” says Thierry Boulanger, IT solutions and business-to-business lead at Samsung Electronics Africa.
According to Boulanger, the annual 24-hour global solar radiation for Africa is far higher than that experienced in Europe or the US. “It makes perfect sense to exploit this free, renewable and environmentally friendly resource to improve the lives of Africa’s inhabitants,” he adds.
The research team at Samsung Electronics is focused on developing cost-effective, mobile solutions that are suited to conditions in Africa. Boulanger notes that the focus is on harnessing the sun’s energy to minimise running costs. As such, all the products have to be easily maintainable and must have extended life cycles.
“We have developed a complete solar digital solution for both rural villages without power, and urban neighbourhoods that are subjected to fluctuating electricity supply,” Boulanger explains. “The resultant offerings include a complete education system infrastructure, power generation for small business enablement, a tele-medical centre for quick and accurate diagnoses, a health centre for the treatment of basic illnesses, and basic lighting.”There has been positive response to Samsung’s Solar-Powered Internet School, he says, which is housed in a 12-metre container and is fitted with rubberised solar panels. “The server in each Internet classroom contains the complete country-specific school curriculum spanning from grades 0 to 12.”
Samsung’s solar power generator can be adapted to suit the needs of small businesses with little or no access to on-grid power. “A solar power generator can be deployed in less than an hour, and for increased power needs, a number of generators can be daisy chained,” Boulanger says.
The brand’s solar-powered lanterns use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are more energy efficient and last much longer than conventional light bulbs. “Charged from a central charging kiosk that is equipped with a solar rooftop, the lanterns are expected to provide lighting for more than 10 years while producing no greenhouse gases,” says Boulanger.
Samsung’s solar-powered tele-medical centres provide professional, qualified medical care, reducing the distances patients need to travel for diagnosis, and eliminating economic and geographic barriers.
“The adoption of solar-powered solutions, specifically for those who do not have access to on-grid power, will drastically improve the quality of life for many of Africa’s inhabitants,” Boulanger concludes. “As more solar systems are deployed to the outlying and remote areas of the continent, so the benefits of this cost-effective energy alternative will be acknowledged and accepted. However, in order to be successful, it is vital that there is buy-in from both product manufacturers and governments.”