Ontario vendor bringing solar-powered laptop to Africa

Computing

A Canadian company is hoping its take on a solar-powered, water-resistant laptop will give Africans a new computing solution.

Launching Tuesday in Accra, Ghana, WeWi Telecommunications Inc.’s laptop is designed to be more rugged and outfitted for Africans’ needs. It comes with a set of solar panels that give the user up to 10 hours of battery life after spending two hours under the sun. The panels can be folded away under the laptop when not in use. A higher-end, water-resistant version of the Sol is also coated in a hydrophobic material which protects the laptop from water damage.

“We are focusing on Africa, because they have a lot of troubles with their electricity infrastructure,” says David Snir, WeWi’s founder and CEO.
The Sol laptop features solar panels, harnessing solar power to charge itself. The Sol laptop features solar panels, harnessing the sun to charge itself.

WeWi’s co-founders developed the germ of the idea for the Sol about a year and a half ago, during a visit to Ghana. One of the co-founders is originally from that country, and WeWi has a subsidiary there whose primary job is to fulfill government contracts.

While one of the company’s main tasks is to build cellular towers, Snir says he was struck by how often the power grid would go down in Ghana, with that problem translating to much of the rest of Africa.

“While we were there, even in Accra, it has a lot of troubles. Every few days, it would have a power outage throughout the city or through its regions. For us, it was odd that it happened so persistently and nothing was really done about that,” he says.

“But then, the more we looked into it, the more we saw that the entire African continent has this issue. It is really a very rapidly growing economy, but at the same time … people have difficulty getting electricity to power these computers.”