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Hydrogen Phone Chargers in Africa Seen as Answer to Unreliable Power Grids

In response to the unreliable power grids in developing countries and other rural areas, hydrogen phone chargers are seen as a way to keep communications open even when the power goes out.

A portable charger that relies on hydrogen fuel cells is being introduced by the British company Intelligent Energy, which plans to roll out the first million portable chargers by mid-December, according to a report by Reuters.

The company revealed that the chargers will be first introduced in Nigeria and South Africa and then to other African nations and eventually to Asia. The chargers have impressed during field test over that last six months.

"In emerging markets where the grids are not reliable and people are using (mobile phones) as a primary device, it is mission critical; if you're out, you're out," Intelligent Energy's Consumer Electronics Managing Director Amar Samra told reporters this week during a panel discussion about the mobile communication demand in Africa.

The chargers will be equipped with a non-disposable cartridge that can be detached and refueled for less than $5, according to Samra,

Ultimately the final cost of the charger would depend on how companies market the product as well as how many units are sold, but conservative estimates show that fully charging a phone could be done for less than $1.

There is also talk of other payment plans that would include a $10 per month contract or a two-year contract for the non-disposable cartridges, which would be added to the purchase of the hydrogen charger.

While primarily use of the charger would be geared toward the phone, it would also be able to charge other electronic devices including tablets.

"We always have problems with cell batteries, so everybody will be keen for portable energy. But, it has to be the right price for it to fly in our markets," Thabo Magagula, a businessman who also attended the conference, told Reuters.

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