Johannesburg – A South African prototype solar-powered lamp has beaten designs from more than 1 500 teams from around the world.
The Social Innovation Relay competition was developed for high school pupils to encourage them to develop new business concepts with a positive social or environmental impact.
The Emulsified Environmentalists – Tessy Odiley, 16, Siphesihle Madlala, 17, Kgotso Mothoa, 17, and Lebogang Ledwaba, 17, from Sandtonview Combined School in Bramley Park, Joburg, – won after competing against 13 teams in the final challenge with their Emu Lamp. Teams from China and Slovakia were runners-up.
The pupils, who come from Bramley, Diepsloot and Alexandra, chose to work together on the project because they trusted each other and work well as a team.
“We had to come up with an idea that would improve our communities. Most households don’t have electricity and a lot of children can’t do their homework because of a lack of light,” said Siphesihle. “There is a lot of pollution and littering, and the use of the lamp will lessen them because it uses the sun as energy,” said Tessy.
Siphesihle said they had learnt that 1.6 billion people around the world did not have access to electricity.
Tessy explained how the light works. “It absorbs light energy from the sun through the use of PV (photovoltaic) cells. The PV cells convert it into electricity, which is used to power the lamp.”
The pupils won the national competition in June, and the global challenge in July.
Their accounting and business studies teacher, Isaac Ganyiwa, helped to facilitate the entry. “We brainstormed with the children and they then came up with the concept. We hope to mass-produce the light in the near future,” he said.
The light is made from recycled material.
“The solar panels also work using artificial lighting. You can charge it for eight hours and the light will last for 100 hours. You don’t have to charge it every day. The solar panels have a longevity of 25 years,” said Kgotso. – The Star