Nerea Rial | New Europe Online | 26 October 2012
Solar energy won at the AidEX 2012 event in Brussels on 24 October, specifically the Portable Solar Led Lantern developed by Divyesh Thakkar, from the Indian project Sunlite.
During its dynamic and enthusiastic presentation, Thakkar explained how the device he created three years ago can help and improve people’s life around the world. The solar product is similar to a traditional oil lantern, but more affordable, health friendly and can be charged “on the go.”
Its LEDs light up only when it’s dark and natural light is not enough, saving energy from the battery, which is charged by solar panels, built in the top of the lantern. The LED Lantern, which costs $38,5, can last at least five years, but its battery –available in the countries for $4 – must be changed every two years.
Besides, it’s water proofing, resistant to drops and has in-built mobile phone charging facility, allowing people being in touch. In Africa, for instance, a lot of people have mobile phones, “because they love to talk”, said Thakkar, and that’s why he added this specific feature. In addition, due to the big number of thefts in developing regions, it has a paddock which once broken makes the lantern useless.
To generate this idea, Thakkar visited refugees’ camps and talked with them to know what they needed and how he could help them. “It took us two years to start producing it, because we wanted to know what they needed, not what they wanted”, he told New Europe, adding that they had to “work with them” to create a good product.
He also expressed his satisfaction with the result of the contest, saying that “we are going to make a big difference for people in the world” and “we are happy because there is nothing like this in the market.”
With a social purpose of helping women and children to engage their daily activities post sunset, protecting women and girls against gender abuse, and even safeguarding children from predators such as snakes or scorpions, Sunlite is now present in over 30 cities across 4 continents.
The project started producing 200 Portable Solar Led Lanterns, which are “101% Indian, nothing made in China”, and now they will have 15,000 with aids agencies’ help, Thakkar explained to New Europe. Every country which suffers natural disasters like tsunamis, floods or war conflicts needs these kind of devices, not only developing regions. “Even Japan needs help”, he said.
Thakkar’s lantern competed against a folding tap stand, a bag that purifies water instantly and solar powered LED lights which can be joined together to generate as much light as is needed. However, the jury was “impressed” by the Portable Solar Led Lantern, as the member Trevor Baylis said, due to its affordability, simplicity and capacity to be easily integrated in countries without changing their way of life.
If you have an innovation with a development impact for the BoP populations in India, you too can win funding to take your dream venture forward. Apply for the Millennium Alliance Awards now.