Bringing Affordable Light To The Dark Continent
One of five inventors of the LEDsafari lamp interviewed an African student who was recently trained to build his own LEDsafari. The student is very enthused about the invention because it is going to bring affordable light to his continent, giving Africans more time in the evening to study, to discuss, to work, to create... It will make them more productive and, thereby, richer. A simple, cheap, safe, and environmentally clean lamp, this student hopes, will 'light up the Dark Continent.'
The developers insist that LEDsafari is more about the training than it is about the lamp, and that is probably true, because if the five simple parts of the lamp don't get put together properly several unfriendly things could happen, among them electrocutions, electrical shorts, waste of supplies, and a population that doesn't believe in what the LEDsafari can do for them.
These components (an LED bulb, a switch, a cellphone battery, rechargeable in any cellphone, solar photovoltaic material; and empty transparent bottles that make a lamp easy to build and repair by users at the village level) are all that is needed. But they should not be assembled without proper instruction.
It is through the instruction, three days of learning about energy technologies and conservation, how to make the lamp, and how to teach others to make the lamp that the students - teachers themselves, secondary school students, workers, crafters, village leaders .... - understand the rationale, the value, and the technology of the LEDsafari.
This is not how most inventors bring their products to market, but it has been, and no doubt will continue to be, a most rewarding venture for Govinda Upadhyay, Elisa Wepfer, Vincenzo Capogna, Naomi Savioz, and Parag Rastogi from EPFL Lausanne, as they continue to light up the 'dark continent' and other dark places in underdeveloped countries.