Good for the Eyes, Lungs, and Brain: Phillips Develops Off-Grid Lighting for Africa

phillips solar led lights
(Image: Phillips)

Phillips apparently sees a fruitful market among the nearly 2 billion people who lack access to electricity. The company is rolling out a small line of lighting products specifically designed for the needs of those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. We've seen Phillips' interest in this area before with its smokeless cooking stove, and we've seen what a difference simple lighting technology can make for rural communities.
An entrant into this year's Index Award, the Phillips product line includes the Uday lamp, a hand-crank flashlight, and a special reading light designed for students.The Uday lamp combines CFL and LED bulbs with a rechargeable battery pack and solar panel. A day's worth of solar charging delivers four hours of light. The hand-crank flashlight uses a dynamo to charge, and cranking it for two minutes generates 17 minutes of use. "My Reading Light" is an LED lamp designed for students. It works in conjunction with a plastic film placed over the page to make night-time reading more tolerable. The dimmable light lasts 3.5 to 9 hours, depending on brightness setting.

The significance of designing renewable lighting for the "bottom of the pyramid" is multi-faceted. It has strong health implications because it often replaces kerosene or other dirty fuels that fill homes with soot which is then inhaled, especially by women and children. Access to lighting also allows economic activity and education to continue at night when it otherwise might cease with the sunset.

Check out this Phillips short vid about a pilot program in Ghana.

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