SHINING A LIGHT
Envisioning a brighter future for people living off the electrical grid, Panasonic launched an initiative to bring them solar power.
Around the world about one billion people live without access to electricity. In these off-grid communities, light has the power to provide safety, support economic growth and expand learning opportunities. Inspired to improve lives in these communities, Panasonic launched an ambitious project in 2013 with the aim of donating 100,000 solar lanterns within a five-year period.
Partnering more than 130 organisations in 30 countries, Panasonic eclipsed its target in January 2018 –a milestone that has left a lasting impact. One of the key outcomes has been the removal of kerosene lamps, with the solar-powered lanterns providing immediate health and economic benefits. In Myanmar the lanterns ensured the safe birth of more than 2,400 infants over a two-year period. In India, improved working conditions have helped raise craftspeople’s incomes by up to 40 per cent, while in Cambodia, low-income families have seen their fuel costs reduced by half.
Building on the project’s legacy, the company has continued to share knowledge with off-grid communities. “We are focusing on local industries, such as growing vegetables in Kenya or selling ice lollies in Myanmar,” says Akiko Asano, the leader of Panasonic’s Off-grid Solutions Project. “Listening to the opinions of the local people, we work with NGOs to develop and deliver initiatives.”
The simple orb-shaped lantern brings together Panasonic’s expertise in lighting, battery and solar-energy design. The lantern contains LED bulbs, three brightness settings and a rotating handle, which allows for various configurations and provides up to 90 hours of light from a single battery charge. The addition of a USB port to the design addresses another important need people have: charging mobile phones and other electronic devices.