There are over one billion people in the world living without electricity, and it's not because they've chosen to live a trendy, off-grid lifestyle. About 20 percent of the world doesn't have the proper energy sources to power their electronics, their businesses, and even their regular old light bulbs. To combat this issue, a few African countries have begun turning towards solar energy.
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A few years ago, entrepreneur Mike Lin noticed that many African countries without access to sufficient energy sources were using kerosene lamps instead. Using kerosene is very dangerous for many reasons - children easily burn themselves and 1.5 million people die each year from respiratory illnesses caused by kerosene lamps. Wanting to put a stop to this, Lin and his co-founder Brian Warshawsky started Fenix International and invented the ReadySet portable battery, an energy source chargeable by solar power or by pedaling on a stationary bike.
ReadySet has completely transformed these African communities. Business owners can work longer hours and stay open later, children can get their homework done even at night, and people can charge their cell phones inside their own homes, rather than traveling long distances and paying expensive fees to use chargers as they had to do before ReadySet. The pop musician Akon even launched a Solar Academy that will teach people how to install and maintain solar-powered devices for years to come. Not only are these efforts greatly improving the African economy, they are also giving more people the chance at a better future.
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Read more about ReadySet and Solar Energy in Africa:
New York Times: Singer, Akon, launches "Solar Academy" in Africa
Wired: ReadySet - How a Portable Power Pack Drives Dollars to the Developing World