Innovation That Matters

Motopower: solar-powered cellphone kiosks for Ugandan women


Mobile phones are connecting people around the globe like never before, but the simple fact remains that they don’t work without electricity. In Uganda, which has one of the lowest levels of electricity in Africa, Motorola has launched an initiative to provide solar recharging stations that can be run by local, entrepreneurial women. Launched last year, Motorola’s Motopower project has brought 55 solar-powered kiosks to Uganda that offer free mobile phone charging to local consumers. Each kiosk is charged by a 55-watt inverted solar panel and can charge up to 20 phones at a time. The women who run the kiosks, meanwhile, are also equipped to sell handsets and operator SIM cards and to provide repair services. For local people without their own phones, the kiosks effectively function as a local “phone booth” for making occasional calls as well. The initiative was designed to empower entrepreneurial women by providing them with the foundations to manage their own sustainable businesses. As part of a start-up package, each entrepreneur is given four Motorola handsets and a business skills training course. Nikesh Patel, senior sales director for Motorola Africa’s mobile devices business, explains: “The Motopower initiative is the first of its kind to exist for women in Africa. Through this program, we are giving women the opportunity to run their own business, learn valuable entrepreneurial skills and generate a positive income.” Of course, besides empowering women and helping Ugandans stay connected, the project will likely increase Motorola’s share of the local market as well. It’s a win-win-win, and one for other global corporate citizens to emulate as often as they can! Spotted by: Treehugger via RK



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