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Solar candle to light Africa

A South African has developed a “candle without a flame”, which will not only reduce shack fires, but will also cut carbon dioxide emissions from paraffin lamps and candles.

Developed to endure the harsh conditions of rural and township living, the solar powered Nightlight Solar Candle has caught the attention of World Bank-backed non-profit organisation (NPO) Lighting Africa.

Lighting Africa, which seeks to provide “modern off-grid lighting products in Sub-Saharan Africa”, has shortlisted the Solar Candle for distribution throughout Africa, because of its durability and unique performance. The organisation has, with its partners, “contributed to about 7.7 million people across Africa accessing better quality, affordable, clean lighting”.

Johannesburg-based Solar Candle inventor Ken Hall said he was spurred to develop the product after learning many devastating fires in townships are caused by candles or paraffin lamps setting fire to homes.

Hall was named in Time magazine in 2001 for his internationally acclaimed table top Cobb oven.

Since then I have designed several other products, specifically the Protostar stove which competes against paraffin stoves in informal settlements,” explained Hall. “It is far safer and runs on methanol based fuel. During my research I discovered what major fire hazards candles and paraffin lamps were. That’s when I saw the need to design a candle without a flame.

What’s significant is that this is a specifically African product designed to withstand African conditions,” said Hall. “Because this product is environmentally friendly, it will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

During its lifespan, the Solar Candle emits no carbon dioxide, so for every 1,000 candles replaced by the Solar Candle, there is a 25 ton carbon dioxide saving, he added.

Hall, the technical director of the company behind the invention, Nightlight, said the charging of the Solar Candle was made easy with a durable solar panel on the base of the product, meaning it simply had to be turned upside down and left in the sun to re-charge. Even after being stored without use for up to 6 months, the Solar Candle would retain 90% of its charge when used again, he said.

The unique aspects of the Solar Candle have seen it noticed by NPOs such as Lighting Africa. These include:

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