Hydrogen Phone Chargers: Coming Soon to Africa, Other Nations

Friday, 15 Nov 2013 11:44 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Hydrogen phone chargers will soon be available in Africa and other developing areas of the world where power shortages and electrical grid failures are common.

Reuters reported that the detachable charger that relies on hydrogen fuel cells is being introduced by the British company Intelligent Energy, which plans to roll out the first million portable chargers by mid-December.

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The first chargers will be available in Nigeria and South Africa, and then in other African and Asian markets. Over the past five months, Intelligent Energy has reportedly been testing the chargers in Nigeria.

"In emerging markets where the grids are not reliable and people are using (mobile phones) as a primary device, it is mission critical; if you're out, you're out," Intelligent Energy's Consumer Electronics Managing Director Amar Samra told reporters this week during a panel discussion about the mobile device demand in Africa.

According to Samra, the chargers come with a non-disposable cartridge that can be detached when the energy runs out. It costs less than $5 to "refuel" a charger.

Samra added that though the final cost would depend on how telecom companies market and sell the product, the British company estimates that fully charging a phone would on average cost a customer less than $1 per charge with the hydrogen phone charger.

Other payment plans considered include a $10 per month contract or a two-year contract for non-disposable cartridges added to the purchase of the hydrogen charger.

Though it will likely be used primarily to recharge cell phones, the hydrogen charger can also be used for tablets and other mobile devices.

"We always have problems with cell batteries, so everybody will be keen for portable energy. But, it has to be the right price for it to fly in our markets," Thabo Magagula, a businessman who also attended the conference, told Reuters.

Another company launching an alternative phone charging method is the Dubai-based developer Solarway, which has created solar-powered kiosks for communities that are not linked to a power grid.

Each kiosk is capable of charging up to 40 cell phones a day, Reuters noted.

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