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Solar Phone-Power Launched in Kenya

The world's first solar charged phone was unveiled in Kenya last week by telecommunications provider Safaricom.

Officials said the innovation is in line with the company's policy of going green at a time when electricity costs a fortune in Kenya. Branded Simu ya Solar and manufactured under partnership with ZTE, the handset is made from recycled materials and has an in-built solar panel that charges the phone using the sun's rays.

Simu ya Solar, which also comes with a conventional charger, will be retailing at all Safaricom shops and dealer channels countrywide at a price of $38 (KShs2,999). This is before the product goes regional.

Speaking during the launch of the phone, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, Michael Joseph said the company was keen on embracing green business processes and products. He stated that Safaricom has been involved in numerous projects that advocate environmental consciousness.

He said Safaricom has embraced green practices to satisfy customers, promote positive community relations and comply with environmental regulations. The company has developed and implemented cost-effective internal processes that encourage environmental stewardship, ensuring that its products and services are in pursuit of the universal green agenda.

In this regard, the company has over 36 radio base stations that are operating on renewable energy sources, namely wind and solar, in various parts of the country.

"Solar power is definitely the way to go as it is cheap, green and renewable. This solar-charged phone will come in handy, particularly in the rural parts of the country which are without grid electricity and urban areas which are suffering power rationing," said Joseph.

"Our subscribers will now not have to take their phones to merchants for charging and wait all day for their handsets to charge in order to make calls. They can now talk all day and night, without worrying about the level of charge and charging costs," he added.

In line with its green credentials, Safaricom House, the firm's head office, is fitted with motion-sensitive light bulbs to minimize the use of electricity within the office environment. Other green initiatives within Safaricom include digital communication and paperless offices; use of reusable water bottles (dubbed Kikombe Dawama) instead of plastic throw-away tumblers; resource recycling and reuse; and a planned comprehensive Environment Management System.

East African Business Week

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