Bicycle-mounted mobile phone chargers actually improve Kenyan lives


Two dollars is a princely sum in Kenya. But that’s what people there have to pay to charge their mobile phone at a charging station—sometimes just an old car battery on the side of the road. So, in yet another example of technology actually improving people’s lives (rather than just giving hipsters an opportunity to bump into other hipsters), two students have developed a bicycle-mounted charger. The idea, obviously, is that, as you peddle the bicycle around, your mobile phone’s battery charges.

It takes approximately one hour of peddling to fully charge a mobile phone’s battery. (It usually takes an hour to charge said battery using the side-of-the-road stand, too.) And because it costs nothing to charge, outside of the initial purchase, it should bring the convenience of mobile phone ownership to many more Kenyans.

Not that they need help. In the year 2000, there were 200,000 mobile phones in the country. Today, there’s 17.5 million mobile phones out there, out of a population of 38.5 million.

This device works because bicycles in Kenya are often sold with an attached generator, usually used to power headlights. Rearrange some odds and ends, and the generator then powers the mobile phone battery charger.

So far, only two have been made, but an NGO has put in an order for 15 of them, to see how well they’ll catch on in rural locations.