The world’s first SolarKiosk opens in Ethiopia


July 19, 2012

The portable SolarKiosk is an “autonomous business unit” that sells energy, products, tools and services

The portable SolarKiosk is an “autonomous business unit” that sells energy, products, tools and services

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On July 15th, the world’s first SolarKiosk was officially opened near Lake Langano, Ethiopia. The portable solar shop was designed in Germany by Graft architects and provides an “autonomous business unit” that sells energy, products, tools and services. With approximately 1.5 billion people around the globe who remain without access to a stable source of light, the SolarKiosk is intended to provide a safe and affordable solution for inhabitants in off-the-grid areas.

In the past, people in developing nations have typically relied on things like kerosene lamps and diesel generators, despite the fact that they are typically toxic, hazardous and expensive forms of light and energy. With solar technology becoming cheaper and more accessible, however, the SolarKiosk can now offer a clean energy service that is economical, even for the underprivileged.

Equipped with rooftop photovoltaic panels, the energy hub will provide enough power for solar lighting, mobile phones, car batteries, a computer and even a solar fridge. Furthermore, local residents will be able to purchase solar lanterns, mobile phones, re-charge cards and refreshments that one typically finds in a kiosk. Since the kiosk is most likely to house the only refrigerator in the community, it can also be used to store community emergency supplies and medicines.

As a local business, the SolarKisok will provide training and secure jobs to several people from the community. This will include training that will educate kiosk operators on how solar products work, how to maintain them, and the everyday workings of a sustainable business.

The SolarKiosk concept is designed as a light-weight structure that is delivered in a kit of parts. The kiosk can be assembled on site using local materials and in extreme cases can even be transported on the back of a donkey. The basic model can be modified to create a larger structure or a series of small kiosks, while the largest SolarKiosk prototype can generate enough power to run a telecom tower.

It is envisioned that these SoarKiosks could provide a service that brings the community together, offering a communications center and even a night-time cinema or television broadcasts, bringing light and entertainment to parts of the developing world that currently remain in the dark.

“What we dream of is that these people at night, can not only enjoy cold beer but maybe they can even watch TV,” said creator Lars Krückeberg during a TED talk in Berlin.

With the first functional SolarKiosk operating in Ethiopia, the creators are looking for business partners and NGO's who can help bring the kiosks to parts of the world where they are most needed.

Source: SolarKiosk and Graft

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

“What we dream of is that these people at night, can not only enjoy cold beer but maybe they can even watch TV,” said creator Lars Krückeberg... really? how about better medical technology, clean water, better tools or access to information? not access to reruns of Seinfeld.

they mention this as a business, but they do not mention how much one of these boxes will cost, delivered. aside from selling cold beer and mind numbing TV at night, how much of a market is there for electricity? if there is no electricity there now, is it safe to assume no one has items that need electricity? I can see how this can bolster a fledgling area that has intermittent electricity and is generally prospering, but if it's in the middle of nowhere, what is the value add past cold beer?

how long will it take to make enough money to pay for the box? (before who ever payed for the box makes their money back) do the locals have the money to afford this? if not, who is making the up-front investment?

too many questions unanswered. Maybe if a local govt got involved and was developing an area, this could be really helpful.

MockingBird TheWizard

A response to TheWizard's comment and to anyone who may have similar concerns:

The reason the Solarkiosk was created and designed, which took a long time, was precisely to address the most ardent needs of neglected off-grid communities. Some of those needs include providing reliable charging capability for cell phones, as well as for LED lamps & LED flashlights in order to reduce the need for unsustainable, dirty and/or unsafe fuels, such as kerosene and firewood, which are used for basic daily tasks. Off-grid communities spend on average 40% of their income on dirty, dangerous fuels. Furthermore, although a significant percentage of the African population have cell phones, many have to walk for several hours in order to charge them. Also, the kiosk was specifically designed to include a fridge for medication storage and to power computers so that people can potentially have access to information.

The fact that the kiosk can cool drinks and power a TV are just additional capabilities of the kiosk, but were not the reason this technology was created.

Additional inquiries are welcomed through our website

Facebook User

This is a good all-in-one solution to creating power, jobs and services for remote communities. Can see local entrepreneurs and tech companies investing in this.

Dan Barkley

This seems more suited to areas with access to electricity. Being in Africa and knowing how popular businesses that are run from such kiosks are; there can be a definite incentive for someone to opt for a SolarKiosk rather than the current freight container kiosks that has power supplied to it from the grid. I can see this reducing the running expenses of the business given the amount of sunlight we have here and the rising costs electricity. However, opting to switch to the SolarKiosk would largely be determined by the price in comparison to what's available. Eskom, our electricity utility in South Africa, could look at subsidizing these in their Integrated Demand Management programs which seek to reduce the load on the national grid to avoid black-outs.

Facebook User

The answer that MockingBird TheWizard is looking, is in the question he is asking: who pays the up-front investment? We all should… But judging by the tone he is asking the question, he rather would not!

Seriously, what's wrong with replacing fossil fuel burning generators with solar enregy? I applaud these kind of initiatives wholeheartedly, although, I would choose another strategy to impose clean energy generation to our pyromanic obsession to procure energy. One with a much more immediate impact... Any guess ?


How much electricity does it generate?

Keith Arnold

I imagine the amount is 'enough' and when that is used up there is 'more' safe, accessible and reliable - isn't that the whole idea? That's the way it works at my house.

Jansen Estrup

It would help Ethiopians if Germans only sold healthful things in these kiosks instead of unhealthy stuff like soft drinks. In other words, they should be selling things that help Ethiopian society remain and become more sustainable instead of bringing destructive consumerism to this and other countries. They could be providing family planning services, selling native seeds not GMO's, and renewable home energy products, cheap used computers and Internet service to educate and keep them informed.


I wonder why these kiosks couldn't be thought of as homes for small families, couples, or singles?


re; ezeflyer

I think more good would be done by mass manufacturing and cheaply selling a copy of the Icy Ball ( and small a durable, easily repaired, generator that can be hand cranked, pedaled, an animal or mechanical prime mover.


The still unanswered question: how much does it cost?

Rich Mansfield

I think the price vary depends on components or whole structure supplied. As I understood, Solar kiosk has some essential parts that should be original, but other parts could be prepared from local materials. So, I am also interesting: 1. What is price for SolarKiosk completely made in Germany? 2. What is price per kit of essential components (like solar cells, baterries.....) that should be imported to place of installation (not include addition structures made from local materials)?


The price would depend on several crucial factors, which differ vastly from region to region.

Some of those factors include, but are not limited to: - the availability of local manufacturing options, as well as the availability of quality materials and components - the price depends heavily on additional costs which vary, such as transport costs, customs duties and taxes on components which have to be imported - the price depends on local costs of implementation - Furthermore, the kiosk can ordered in different configurations (power capacity, size, equipment, etc.) which would ultimately be one of the main influences on the price.

Inquiries and suggestions are welcomed through our website,

the Solarkiosk Team Facebook User

sorry for the news that i'm just "posting"...but that's ABSOLOUTLY NOT THE FIRST SOLAR KIOSK!!!!! LOOK UP THE LING BELOW...An Italian Society projected and produced a Solar kiosk in 2007! and sincerly, the Italian one is so much pretty :) you can find too the on-line Catalogue of that Society: Have a nice day to everybody!!

Giulia Mioni

Very cool! It gives credence to our Companies belief in fit-for-purpose rural solutions. Please also have a look at for more about our solution - similar but different. Kudura provides community level potable water, electricity in the home, biogas for cooking and biofertiliser for rejuvenating over-tilled lands.

Vivian Vendeirinho
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