Thanks to SOL Laptops for supporting our next West Africa photography adventure: ‘When you need to share your adventure, just “plug” into the sun!’

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Image courtesy of the SOL Laptop website

Sometimes there is a need to have a techie blog post – particularly when it comes to the SOL Laptop! Read on…

On both our River Gambia Expedition and A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush expedition, powering our gear – particularly our laptops, essential for uploading Florios images and updating the blog – has always been a big hurdle to overcome and, despite having extensively researched before purchasing the latest gadgets using solar power technology, on both expeditions we ended up purchasing a car battery locally to charge our gear effectively and fully! Therefore, we are constantly on the look out for solar power technology that does in fact do exactly as it says it will do on the box. So, imagine our delight when we came across a recent review on the G-Layer blog – the Australian sister company to Yellowbrick, UK, who sponsored our recent River Gambia journey with the YB3 tracking device:

‘Cutting-edge sustainable technology is what we’re all about here at the G-Layer, and we’re always on the lookout for new exciting developments, so when we discovered the SOL solar laptop we were overwhelmed by the possibilities this tough little computer offers to our sun-drenched country!

The 10-hour laptop’s battery  is charged by a built-in solar panel (detachable).

SOL can be connected to the internet using the 4G network or an optional satellite module, opening up the world wide web to communities, schools and workers all over Australia. This revolutionary product will also feature a GPS, HD graphics and an integrated webcam. Using the latest in nanotechnology construction, and priced at a sum nearly anyone can afford, we believe this product will revolutionise life in the outback, which is why we had to bring it to our customers at the first opportunity!’ G Layer

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Image courtesy of the SOL Laptop website

And we were thrilled beyond belief when, after submitting to Sol Laptops, a Canadian based company, about our next West Africa venture, we won a place in their Expedition Sol‘ …choice of ‘professionals, researchers, adventurers and unique individuals‘ to get our very own SOL Laptop when it is officially launched later in the year!

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Expedition Sol – meet the explorers (click here or on image to view page). Image © Jason Florio , with Helen Jones-Florio and the village chief of Tuba Dabbo, The Gambia, W Africa, 2009

And, as for our next West Africa venture? You’ll just have to stay tuned until we are ready to officially announce our plans! However, again, it will most definitely involve lots of great photography – and this time, we hope, not just from Florio – and neither should we have any of this nonsense…

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…Helen: “I haven’t got enough power – again!” Image © Jason Florio – Sila Kounda, Senegal. Camping on the roof of the village chiefs compound, 2012

Why? Because, we’ll have ‘The world’s first truly solar-powered laptop’. It never needs to be plugged in!’.

Immense thanks to the team at SOL Laptops (WeWi Corp)  for inviting us on board.

More news soon, about what we are planning next.

The Florios (H & Flo)

Welcome on board ComAfrique-InteliZon Initiative: ‘Light Up a Village’ with solar-charged lights

ComAfrique InteliZon - solar powered lights © Helen Jones-Florio

During our ‘enforced’ stay here in The Gambia, West Africa – whilst waiting for our delayed/lost shipment of expedition gear to arrive – we’ve serendipitously met some inspirational people who we wouldn’t perhaps otherwise have connected with if we’d already left for the River Gambia Expedition when we were supposed to (3 weeks ago!).

One of those people, Miriam Gyamfi, came to Sandele recently on a yoga retreat, with her dog, Hero, in tow and some amazing solar-charged LED (light emitting diode) lights and torches.

A SUSTAINABLE Solar Lighting Project. Light up a Village using your Corporate Responsibility – An Initiative devised by ComAfrique – with LIghts from InteliZon and supported by partners like TATA Africa (Senegal) and Western India Cashew Company. Bringing Light to Africa – An Entrepreneurial initiative from India – in Partnership with Africa

About: ‘The ComAfrique InteliZon Initiative was founded in 2009 with the aim to realize green, decentralized and low cost lighting in rural areas of Africa. The eradication of the use of candles and kerosene lanterns which are costly and dangerous was one of the main targets from the first day on.

Knowing a great solar product, the ‘ZonLights’ from India, it was obvious for the founder of the Initiative, Mr Ram Mohan that this product needed to be introduced to the African market.’

After a truly inspiring and enlightening (excuse the pun) meeting with CEO and founder of the Initiative, Ram Mohan, Miriam and the other two team members, Famara and Rakib, Florio and I very gratefully walked away with a number of lights, torches and solar panels, for the River Gambia Expedition.

‘Not having ZonLights people would be dependent on buying a daily candle to secure basic lighting. The price for a daily candle is on average about US$0,20 in most parts of West Africa. Using one candle per night most households spend at least US$6 per month or US$73 per year on basic and dangerous illumination.

Using ZonLights villagers do not have to invest into candles anymore. Instead they subscribe to a contract: In the moment of receiving a ZonLight they commit to pay a daily fee of US$0.05 for the usage of the light. Over six years (the life span of a ZonLight) this means that every light collects about US$110 (a daily candle would cost about US$438 in six years). This means that using ZonLights every villager saves about 75% of the money that he would otherwise have invested into candles. But not only that: The steady contribution of US$0.05 goes into a ZonLight fund which collects about $7,500 in six years assuming 70 subscribers.’ …please read more here

Image courtesy ComAfrique InteliZon website

The Initiative’s long-term plan is to light up more and more African villages and beyond, with the help of individual, NGO’s and corporate sponsors – just $2,500 will supply a village with 50-70 Zonlights – for homes, schools, medical centres, police stations, mosques and churches.

There is so much more to this exciting Initiative to be found on the ComAfrique InteliZon website. So, please take a few minutes to check out what these guys are doing – and spread the word. We’ll definitely be shouting about it and we’re especially looking forward to using the products.

Thanks Ram, Miriam and the ComAfrique team for sponsoring us with what will be much needed light on our River Gambia Expedition – we’ll be lighting up our campsite soon enough, with the Zonlights, once the expedition begins next week in Guinea…photos to come soon!

The Florios (H & Flo)