It seemed like it was only a matter of time, but one of the major hurdles solar energy has always faced are the significant start-up costs. In the developing world this is unsustainable, but Samsung, LG, and a Chinese firm, ZTE, have developed a low-cost, highly advantageous tool aimed at the developing world that will undoubtedly facilitate communication and business for millions of individuals in desperate need of integration.
The Samsung “Blue Earth” features a casing made from recycled water bottles and an application that can track your carbon footprint. All three companies have models set to hit the developing world this summer where sunlight is cheap and all too plentiful. Each model is distinct but in general a 15-minute conversation would require roughly half an hour of sunlight. A Caribbean distributor of the ZTE already expects a market of 700,000 in the Caribbean, South Pacific and Latin America. Imagine the market once Africa and Asia are thrown in the mix!
This is critical not only from a development perspective, but educationally as well. It is much easier to be “green” and eco-friendly in the developed world. From time to time I hear arguments that poorer individuals in developing countries are either too ignorant to care about their environment, or simply don’t abide by the same standards as the Western world. Yet, when your food source is a constant concern, private property rights are non-existent, and insurance is only available to 5% of the population, being “green” is the last thing on your mind.
These phones are a low-cost option and introduce a powerful, environmentally friendly message to an audience previously excluded from the discussion. A ground-breaking achievement indeed.