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Solar phone launched in Kenya

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Simu ya Solar is the unlikely new name in mobile phone brands. It also happens to be first solar-charged mobile phone, built from recycled material by Chinese company ZTE and released in Kenya by Safaricom. It comes with a conventional charger, but it is the built-in solar panel that sets it apart.

Kenya’s largest mobile network operator, Safaricom, has introduced the first solar-charged mobile phone on the African continent into the Kenyan market.

Branded Simu ya Solar and manufactured under a partnership with ZTE of China and Intivation of the Netherlands, the handset is made from recycled materials and has an in-built solar panel that charges the phone using the sun’s rays. It is available at all Safaricom retail and dealer channels countrywide and comes with a one-year warranty.

Simu ya Solar, which also comes with a conventional charger, will be retailing at all Safaricom shops countrywide at a price of KSh2,999.

Speaking during the launch of the phone, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph said the company had always been keen on embracing business processes and products that were environmentally-conscious.

‚Solar power is definitely the way to go as it is cheap, green and renewable. This solarcharged phone will come in handy, particularly in the rural parts without grid electricity and even urban areas, for those who are keen on saving on phone maintenance costs,‚ he said.

Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph

‚Our subscribers will not have to take their phones to merchants for charging and wait all day for their handsets to charge in order to make calls. They can now talk all day and night without worrying about the level of charge and charging costs.‚

The launch of Simu ya Solar underpins Safaricom’s credentials as a green and environmentally-sensitive company in all facets of its operations. Safaricom already has over 60 Base Transmission Stations (BTSs) that are operating on renewable energy sources ‚ wind and solar-driven turbines ‚ in various parts of the country. Safaricom House, the firm’s head office, is also fitted with motion-sensitive light bulbs to minimize the use of electricity within the office environment.

Environment Minister John Michuki, who presided over the event, said sustainable companies would be those that do not just look at bottom line but also the impact of their activities on the environment in which they do business.

‚Businesses will have to take due consideration of the environment and issues such as renewable energy, carbon dioxide emissions and climate change in order to remain sustainable,‚ he said. The minister urged Kenyans to support initiatives such as tree planting to increase forest cover and slow down climate change and its disruptive effects on lives.

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