Please make a contribution through our follow-on campaign here: A solar lantern made in Africa
We are Masa Energy, a start up company from Uganda, East Africa, and our goal is to make affordable solar products for the millions of people in Africa without access to electricity.
Our first product is a portable solar lantern that is easy to use and costs just $12, a price that is affordable for most people.
Whatever their reasons, African governments have failed in their duty to provide basic infrastructure such as electricity to the majority of their population. The situation is such that in many African countries, less than 1/4 of the population has access to electricity.
Source: World Bank
As a result, many people, especially in rural areas, still rely on solutions that their grandparents relied upon, like kerosene lamps.
There are many disadvantages to kerosene lamps and here are some of them:
1. Poor quality of light
As you can see from the pictures above, with kerosene light it’s difficult to see from just one metre away. School children who use them to do homework would have to seat really close to the lamp, which increases their exposure to the hazardous smoke.(see the full comparison in the video above)
Much of the fuel from Kerosene lamps turns into pollutant smoke. Research has shown that kerosene lamps add up to 3% to global black carbon emissions.
3. Health risksThe World Bank estimates that breathing kerosene fumes is the equivalent of smoking two packets of cigarettes a day.
Also from the World bank; two-thirds of adult females with lung cancer in developing nations are non-smokers.
CostIn Uganda the average kerosene user spends $0.20 on fuel, that will power the lamp for 4 hours.
For low income families $0.20 can mean 10% or
20% of their daily income. And on days when there’s no money to buy the fuel, the
whole family has to go to bed as soon as it gets dark.
We have created a solar lantern that is much, much brighter than a kerosene lamp.
It certainly does not polluteIt charges under sunlight, stores the energy in its rechargeable batteries and uses an energy efficient LED bulb. The batteries can last over 2 years.
Battery life is 12 hours when fully charged; this ensures that even if the user misses a day of charging, a rainy day for example, there will still be enough energy for them to use (the average user needs light for 4 hours).
And most importantly for the target customer; it’s cheaper than kerosene use
The solar lantern costs $12, this is a one off cost and it comes with a 1 year warranty.
If you compare that to the cost of kerosene fuel, which is $0.20 per day, you can see that the lantern will pay for itself in just 60 days.
Why we need your help
We currently make these lanterns using the home-made tools pictured above (You can see the making process in our video).
We had a limited budget from the beginning but felt it was important to prove the product was feasible before trying to raise capital. We have proven that the product is feasible but have been unable to raise the capital we need to buy machinery.
In Uganda there are no venture capitalists or angel investors and every bank we’ve spoken to wants collateral.
With this IndieGoGo campaign, we are hoping to raise money to;
- Buy plastic moulding machinery
Rent factory space
If we raise enough money, we would also;
- Work on a solar mobile phone charger (many customers
inquire about this).
- Work on a brighter version of our solar lantern.
Hire more people to help us with the work.