Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Internet giant Google, has donated 3,000 solar chargers to International Medical Corps, as a gift-in-kind valued at $216,000. International Medical Corps’ medical and community health teams operating in areas of the developing world that have cell phone coverage but little or no electricity will be able to use the devices to charge their phones.
“Mobile phones are ubiquitous in the developing world today, but electricity is not,” said Nancy Aossey, President and CEO of International Medical Corps. “We are extremely grateful to Google for these solar chargers, which will greatly enhance communications for our field staff, especially those working in remote areas.”
The Solio Solar Chargers receive power from the sun via small, foldable, solar panels, but can also take power from a USB port, or function as an optional wall charger. They can supply power to a range of over 3,200 mobile devices, including cameras and GPS systems – as well as phones – and hold a charge for up to a year.
Over the past decade, mobile phones have swept the developing world as a means of communications cheap enough to buy and operate that they are virtually universally accessible, particularly in urban areas.
“Whether you are in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya, or downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, cell phones are now a reliable form of communication, as well as an important tool,” said Aossey. She points out, for instance, that health project managers can now facilitate and coordinate the activities of field-based health care providers using SMS text messaging.