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Comment by Yotam Ariel on November 11, 2012 at 11:35pm

Good points, Kelly.
Thank you, and I look forward to follow your updates.

Comment by Kelly Kayne on November 11, 2012 at 11:10pm

It's not so much judging what is good or bad as matching the right product to the right community and their needs. Affordability wins out over durability and lumens, various field workers have told us that a light system in one village or country will be embraced whilst it is rejected in another. Short term or immediate benefits are preferred over longer term, longer lastin solutions depending on the financial state of the individuals or community. The educational process involved in time consuming and costly and I know that the people involved in creating solar lights have good intentions and it is a constantly evolving industry. I am looking forward to hearing the talk at Lighting Africa though about waste disposal and recycling as UN reports are concerned with the millions of lights that will be dumped in Africa over the next few years. 

Comment by Yotam Ariel on November 11, 2012 at 10:13pm

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for your comment.
How do you plan to judge whether a solar lantern is good or not?

I'll gladly share feedback I learned from interviewing hundreds of solar businesses and organizations.
Some is also available here: http://bennu-solar.com/resources/by-activity/products/plug-and-play/

Kindly keep in mind that few manufacturers make bad quality on purpose,
and even good ones have a percentage of products which malfunctions.
Some times it is related to misuse
(in Namibia villagers get sand into the on/off switch.., in Cambodia they hunt frogs with not waterproof lanterns)
or some don't know the solar panel should be cleaned -
I usually explain that it is like eye glasses -- it wants to see the sun.

The best way is to become familiar with these issues, and plan for it.
We can further chat on Skype if you'd like.
My Skype is: y.ariel

Comment by Kelly Kayne on November 11, 2012 at 9:49pm

I agree Yotam, I will be very interested to see the products at Lighting Africa as too many are of average quality and are giving solar a bad name in places where trust is so important. I know affordability is a very valid concern but dumping bad products year after year in these communities takes us a step back each time. Part of my job there will be to find durable solar solutions of a more advanced nature that our foundation can fund or subsidise and getting feedback from the users will be a very important part. 

Comment by Yotam Ariel on November 6, 2012 at 10:16pm


This is very cool!

One thing though, a lot of aid projects often end up dumping technology, with good intention,
but only to soon be used for hanging laundry on solar panels for instance. Hey, the clothes dry faster!
(http://www.bget.org/our-programmes/renewable-energy/solar-pv/)

My hope is that when we provide a solar solution to a villager, it comes together with a tool
that the villager can use to voice her/his opinion loud, in public -- on the internet.

So, if after 2 month the solar solution isn't working, everyone know what product, who was overseeing the project,
and that it is not, as claimed by some marketing smoke, a success.

Otherwise we end up with villagers saying that solar technology is bad.


I hope BennuValue would help, but really it is just something to start with,
I keep it open-source so that others can come up with even better ideas.

Thank you,
Yotam

http://www.linkedin.com/in/yotamariel

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