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Kenya – Ken Levicki


Kenya, Ken LevickiI work in the field of development assistance, mainly with rural development in East Africa. For the past couple of years, I’ve occasionally been experimenting with various solar and dynamo powered products for portable lighting and mobile phone charging. During a recent 3 week assignment to the Lake Victoria region in Kenya I had the opportunity to test HiLight.

In my experience, HiLight is the first product that truly lives up to its performance claims. Charging my phone with it is just as effective as plugging in to electricity mains. The device’s construction was of good quality and durability to handle the elements and bumps while motor biking out on rough, dusty country trails.

The capacity of the battery met my expectations both as phone charger and lamp. I was especially impressed by the strength and wide shine of the light. My Kenyan colleague, Pastor John Ombwayo, stated it well – “this light is bright, just like electricity”!  I was even surprised it was capable of charging 2 phones at once though not designed for it.

HiLight became such an important kit in my travel that I felt insecure leaving it unattended! There were times when it needed to continue charging but I couldn’t or didn’t want to stay out in direct sun with it. It would be useful to have some means of fastening a small padlock in order to reduce the risk of it quickly walking away.

In any case, I can safely say that the HiLight will become a regular item of my travel kit. It’ll certainly be my trusted companion out on remote field assignments, and even when based in town it will find good use to allow me to continue working through the frequent power outages.


Photograph in courtesy and by Ken Levicki
INUG – Ingenjörer och Naturvetare utan Gränser

HiLight charging mobile phones  HiLight lighting up a room  HiLight lighting up a store  HiLight charging mobile phones

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Nicaragua – Benoît Guyot


Nicaragua, Benoît GuyotI brought my HiLight to Nicaragua (Central America) where I travelled from the Pacific region with lakes and volcanoes to the Caribbean Sea for 3 weeks. During this time, the weather was generally good with sunny clear skies and temperatures around 25-30°C.

During our trip we exposed the product on a rucksack while travelling around, and when we were   resting, we would put HiLight on a roof or on top of a hut/sunshade while resting.The HiLight works perfectly! When exposed it for a full day of sun, I manage to charge the battery to almost the full capacity. While in not so favourable conditions, I still managed to charge enough to be able to charge my camera.

I found the HiLight very useful as I did not have a US-style plug adaptor to charge our camera. I used the HiLight to charge my camera almost on a daily basis and it came in really handy when I experience an electricity breakdown (blackout), particularly on Corn Island. On this paradisiacal Nicaraguan island in the Caribbean Sea, electricity is provided by an old power plant that uses fuel-powered generators. Disruptions at night had become norm on the island.

One occasion made me especially grateful to have the HiLight with me; during New Years Eve! We experienced yet another electrical breakdown. Not only was it very convenient to have a solution at hand, but also, it makes one really proud when the guest of the New Year’s Eve party moved around us to also enjoy and express their enthusiasm regarding the HiLight.


Photograph in courtesy and by Benoît Guyot
Abondance by Design

HiLight charging digital camera  Benoît Guyot with HiLight in Nicaragua  HiLight charging gps  Using HiLight in the dark


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Tanzania – Voices from some fields test participants


HiLight_Story_11_Maria AbrahamMaria Abraham lives with her five children in Nanyogie in north-eastern Tanzania. Mary’s oldest daughter, Petina, attends school in Arusha, all other lives with Maria in the maasai community. HiLight reduces Maria’s cost of kerosene with 3150Tsh/week (=USD 2,50). Maria also uses her HiLight to charge her cell phone instead of walking four hours to the nearest place to recharge. She also charges the neighbors’ mobile phones, giving a contribution to the household income.

“I use my HiLight to organize evening classes outside my house for the village children. Now we do not need to make a fire to get lighting and my chores much easier!”



Abdi and Mariam live outside Tanga in a house that Abdi built himself. They are 23 respectively 20 years old and have two children together. Abdi works as a fisherman in Tanga, and when possible, holds evening classes in English in his home to earn some extraincome. With HiLight will he is able to expand the teaching thanks to a bright light that illuminates the entire room.


“For the sake of our children, we try to have a kerosene lamp lit all night to easily take care of them if they wake up, but it is too expensive for us. With HiLight we have been able to keep the light on all night without worrying about the cost! Also, we can charge our mobile phone, which saves us both time and money.”



Zainab Nanyaro was a former principal of the nursing school in Tanga, and is now working with the nursing and midwife education at Tanga International Conference Center. Small medical clinics in rural areas in Tanzania very rarely have access to electricity, which makes working at night complicated. Nurses often visit patients lacking electricity, and then usually have to work in the light from a kerosene lamp.


“HiLight should be included in the standard equipment kit that midwives receive at graduation. If nurses had access to HiLights they could provide better assistance to patients. Now that I have one I can lend it to my students when they are out of practice in the villages.”



Marias ole Pello is Maasai chief in Engaruka, a settlement with 2000 inhabitants. To charge a cell phone here, 35 km from the electric grid, costs about 1000 Tsh (=0,8USD). Marias sees a great need for HiLight, as the Maasai are completely isolated for days while herding their animals. HiLight also saves money on kerosene, which previously could consume up to 0,7 liters/day (1,5USD/day).


“HiLight is very easy and convenient, perfect for the Maasai people because we are a nomadic people. I put it on my walking stick when I move. HiLight is easy to use – anyone in our village can use it. The problem with mobile charging is over, now that I have access to a HiLight. I charged eight cell phones during the first two days!”



Regina Mchao is a Maasai from Ngorongoro and lives since several years in Dar es Salaam. Regina says there is a great need for lighting and charging even in Dar es Salaam since the grid is so unstable and households need back-up solutions.




“Previously, I had to carry my rechargeable lanterns with me to work and charge them at the office during the day, but it made me feel uncomfortable. Now I can use HiLight for lighting throughout the evening, and my children have taken it upon themselves to ensure that it charges in the sun during the day. After I got a HiLight, I have not spent a cent on kerosene!”



Simon Joseph is a teacher at the maasai school in Nanyogie in north-eastern Tanzania. Teachers need mobile phones to communicate with their managers, and Simon will no longer have to walk for hours to a place to recharge your phone. A teacher in Tanzania makes approximately 140 000 Tsh/month (=110 USD), of which 10% is spent on kerosene.


“HiLight is so good! We have been able to charge our phones ourselves instead of walking to four hours to the nearest village, and I use it every night to read and prepare lessons. If we had HiLights in all schools, students would have light and could to do their homework in the evenings.”



Ernest Mtaya is artist and teacher, working at a private school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where students from all ethnic groups go. Ernest lives in Dar es Salaam, but his neighborhood still lacks availability to electricity. To charge from the sunlight, he attaches HiLight onto his backpack during the day.



“I live in Dar es Salaam, but have no access to electricity. Many are forced to use kerosene lamps, even here in town, and they do not know the environmental problems or the risk of fumes causing health problems. Now that I have a HiLight I can do my job better by preparing my lessons at night!”



Rafael ole Moono lives in Dar es Salaam with his wife, and travel regularly back to Handeni, where he grew up. Rafael is very involved in the Maasai community development, and runs the organization “Imosut e Purka” (=”Awareness for All” in Maasai).



“I have used HiLight during a month when travelling around Tanzania with HiNation, and we had so much use of it. When the car broke in the middle of the steppe and the mechanic needed to light to fix it, to charge our mobile phones while on the road, or as soon as it was dark. For the Maasai people who live far from the electric grid, this is a vital product!”


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Scotland July 2010 – Leif Josefsson


HiLight in ScotlandI have had the privilege to follow the HiLight project on for the past few years. In July I finally got the opportunity to test one of the first three prototypes on a trip to Scotland.

Scotland and the Orkneys are not just the places you go to, to get access to much sun, which limits the ability to charge. But two weeks of the buses, trains and walking is still a good opportunity to test the handling of the HiLight. I’ve tried a few simple charging solutions before, including a solution with a separate battery pack and a detachable solar panel. After a few days, the sockets started to get loose, and parts were lost. The most important experience of two weeks with HiLight was that there is nothing really negative to report on the product. HiLight stays in place and does not get in the way if you attach it to a backpack. I travelled with a small backpack and a total of 6.5 kg packing, where every item was carefully evaluated. At no time was HiLight a hindrance during the trip.

Thanks to the flexible straps and the shape of HiLight, it was very simple to attach to the outside of a backpack.
When required, eg when I looked at some military fortresses at Scapa Flow, it was easy to turn HiLight so that the light comes out. Put your backpack on your chest and use the lamp as a forward-facing light. It’s easy to find places to attach HiLight to recharge the solar cells, such as in windows. The lamp gives enough light to a small room to be able to read in. Even a low charge level gives good light for a few hours, which goes a long way.

When you have the opportunity to recharge from the mains, HiLight charges the battery for at least two electrical devices and a few evenings of light. That is, a fully charged HiLight is good enough for a weekend of use, even if the sun does not appear. What you first think of as an odd shape, proves to be very useful. The lamp can be hung as a pendant, hung on the wall, leaning against a subject. When I was looking for my glasses, it proved to be very useful to push the HiLight under the bed.

After two weeks of use I have found one possible improvement: it would be good to attach a tripod to its edge so that you can use HiLight with a camera tripod. It would make it even easier to position for charging, and to use as a table or reading light. But it is an improvement that a user could easily do by gluing a nut with the right thread on the edge of HiLight.

I just bought a new Androidmobile. If you use the full functionality such as GPS, the battery does not last for many hours. If today’s modern mobile phones should be useful, it requires finding appropriate solutions for the charging. HiLight is the perfect companion; sustainable, well thought through and robust product with many uses.

Photograph in courtesy and by Leif Josefsson
LeanderLeander AB

Carrying HiLight on my bag  Ready to take the ferry  HiLight hanging from the window to charge