Image: The Jiko Power innovation in action. Picture Courtesy of Jiko Power Inc.
Globally, there are currently 1.5 billion people who have no access to the main grid, and who are predominantly located in poor rural areas in developing countries. Currently, Kenya stands at 83% on mobile penetration, but only 20% of these statistics have their households connected to the main grid. The question then becomes how possible it is to address the communication challenges being faced by this consumer segment in terms of powering their mobile gadgets. Globally, nearly 1.3 billion people burn kerosene for light, which emits about 270,000 tonnes of CO2. How can Jiko Power address these problems?
‘Jiko’ in Swahili means a cookstove, while ‘Power’ essentially connotes the electrical power derived from the heat generated from the firewood that is used in the stove. Jiko Power is a mechanical assemblage that has a protruding spark which is placed in the midst of firewood in a cookstove or fireplace and which then taps wasted heat from the firewood, and coverts it into electrical energy which charges mobile phones and other communication gadgets, LED lights, and other small devices. It is a small, mobile, thermoelectric generator with a 2-5 watt energy output with a metal shaft directly inserted into a cooking stove or fire. The device affords a multiplicity of devices to be simultaneously charged, as it has USB ports for peripherals and output.
It is a rugged contraption, built to withstand external pressures and environmental harm. A thermo-tolerance of about 600oC, ensures that the product can withstand the amount of heat emitted from any cookstove.
The product comprises and has the following features:
- High-Grade Aluminum Alloy
- Solid State
- Power Output of 2-5 Watts
- Heat Tolerance of 600°C
Image: Mobile-Charging by a Jiko Power user-Photo Courtesy of Jiko Power Inc.
The Innovation’s Impact Areas
Since product development, Jiko Power has grown in its early adoption and distribution networks in the rural areas of Kenya. The product has been piloted in communities in Bungoma County in Kenya, which has registered much success. There are a number of areas which the product has great impact, which include:
- Savings on Money - Jiko Power users save on average $27 per month and up to 12 hours per week spent walking to towns to charge their mobile phones. Users can also start mobile phone-charging businesses within their communities, for extra income.
- Enhanced Healthcare - Powered communication gadgets mean a quickened access to doctors and other healthcare providers. Conversely, doctors can reach more people faster, and get supplies, through enhanced communication with more reliable powered communication devices.
- Environmental Conservation - Rural communities no longer need to use kerosene for lighting. Consequently, it significantly cuts down the carbon footprint and improves respiratory health by reducing smoke in the households.
- Education - Jiko Power can light up LEDs, which can be used to light up rural homes for children to study.