The company founded by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen lasts two to three years before needing a new battery. Today, seven out of 10 people lack access to even the most basic electricity in Sub-Suharan Africa,” said Little Sun managing director and CEO Felix Hallwachs. “Over the next 20 years, Africa is poised to hold the world’s largest un-electrified population.”
Hallwachs stated that breathing in kerosene for four hours is the equivalent of breathing 40 cigarettes. The lamp is currently available in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The Little Sun project was launched in 2012 at the Tate Modern museum in London. The lamp costs more in affluent areas around the globe so that the cost to provide lamps in poverty stricken areas where there is no electricity can be greatly reduced. So far they’ve sold over 126,000 lamps and distributed over 165,000.
The lights the Little Sun produces feature the “world’s most efficient solar cell” and provide ten hours of soft light or four hours of bright light on a single five-hour charge. They’re designed to resemble little suns (like the company’s name), and the batteries are rechargeable. There are approximately 1.6 billion people in the world today who live without electricity.
The company’s website states that Little Sun is not a “charity” and rather than a short-term fix of donating lamps to areas without electricity (known as ‘off-grid’ areas), they focus on the longer-term goal of building profitable local businesses that will distribute Little Sun light.
In addition to the African countries that distribute Little Sun the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan also have set up distribution for the product. The lamp is becoming popular in areas that have electricity because of the simple design and long lasting light. It contains 3 rechargeable AAA batteries.