Lighting Up Laos and Beyond
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Lighting Up Laos and Beyond
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Burning in the Sun

Solar rechargeable lamps are helping to transform life in remote rural regions far from the national grid. This has allowed villagers in Laos to stop burning kerosene at night, while also creating new business and educational opportunities.

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Produced by Simon Henschel.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.


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Segment 1

How much would he estimate as the money he spends on buying kerosene for lighting?
Two Ghana cedis [GHC].
So, two cedis is spent on kerosene, and then three ... other three cedis, is spend on their food, hospitals, other things. Two cedis, USD$2 per day -- per month, USD$60, then that's a lot that they spend here.
It's the same story in most parts of the developing world, or the south as it's called in development speak. But here, solar rechargeable lamps, like these, are helping to transform life in villages in remote regions far from the national grid. It means that villagers like Nuoi can work long into the hours of darkness on products that she will sell at the local market. Lee can now help her younger brothers with their homework, when before they would sit in total darkness. And Mae-Nam can get on with her tailoring orders while her husband puts the baby to bed, all thanks to a new form of social entrepreneurship that is bringing power to the people at a price that even the poorest can afford.
MAN 3 [Lantern Owner]
We would use kerosene lamps when we returned from the fields, but now we use the battery lanterns, as they are much brighter than kerosene lamps, and the villagers know they are much more convenient. Once night falls, I stay at home and wait for the villagers to come and rent the lanterns.
This was our idea when we started to create our portable battery lamp. So our approach is to have a central charging station in the village. The village entrepreneur is taking care, it's his business. Here, again, our red line and strategy, not paying for the hardware, paying for the service.
And these lanterns are innovative. They contain an integrated microprocessor with a unique identification number. This calculates the number of hours the lantern is on and can be used for carbon trading. The lantern can also be used to charge mobile phones, which is increasingly relevant, as the telecommunication network now covers 86 percent of the country.