SOLUX: Small Solar Lamps for Developing Countries
Light remote from power sources
It is characteristic of proximity tot/the equator that darkness comes very quickly. As in Kenya, where night falls shortly after six o’clock without prolonged twilight. As though someone had turned off the light at the switch.
But in most rural areas there are no light switches. For the evening meal, therefore, many families light a lamp filled with kerosene or petroleum. Night after night hundreds of thousands of these light sources burn. This is not only harmful to the environment, but also sometimes dangerous.
Time after time houses and huts burn down.
Even in the foreseeable future many developing countries will be unable to build up comprehensive electricity grids. The capital outlay is too great.
One particular form of energy exists in virtually unlimited quantity: with suitable equipment solar energy could be utilized locally, to produce light for example. This fact gave the German company Ludwig-Bölkow Systemtechnik the idea of designing a solar lamp specifically for use in developing countries. The Ludwig-Bölkow Foundation set up by the company now maintains more than 20 workshops in Asia, South America and Africa.
There the expertise needed for assembling and marketing the solar lamps is passed on.
One purchaser of the construction kits supplied by the Foundation at cost price is the firm Hensolex Ltd. in Gilgil, Kenya. 5 workers assemble the lamps and modules and can if necessary also repair them. The larger lamps also have a terminal to which a radio set can be connected.
Hensolex Ltd. is currently selling the lamps for the equivalent of DM 320 each. Since this is a tidy sum for many Kenyans, Francis Kamau, director of Hensolex Ltd., is considering a pay-by-instalments model. “The best way to distribute the lamps would be to let the rural population pay by instalments. Every night a household uses the equivalent of DM 0.30 of kerosene
If we were able to accept this amount as the daily instalment, we could sell many thousands of lamps very quickly.” The problem is however not yet solved, for the small firm would have to advance funds for the loans granted.
Under this pay-by-instalments model it would take a Kenyan farmer about 3 years to finish paying for a lamp. A long time ~ and yet it would be worthwhile, for the lamps are very robustly constructed and last at least 10 years.
Since the project’s ínception in 1995 1000 lamps have already been sold in Kenya alone.