A charger in Every Shoe: Kenya’s Shoe-based Mobile Phone Charger


Have you ever run out of mobile phone battery  just when you needed to either make or receive an important call? Have you ever experienced going for days without battery  because of an unannounced power-cut?

If your response to both questions is ‘no’, then, you probably live in an economically advanced country. Nigeria’s National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, has taught its inhabitants greater lessons, and Cameroon’s ENEO has done same. According to World Bank Statistics, only 53% of Cameroon’s population and  55.6% of Nigerians have access to electricity. The figures are worse in other countries like Ethiopia 26.6%, Rwanda 18%,  Chad 6.4% and South Sudan 5.1%. Find WB access to electricity statistics here  Although there has been a persistent rise in mobile phone use, the erratic nature of power supply in countries of the Global South has been a major stumbling block.

Kenyan innovator Anthony Mutua has brought forth  a means of circumventing electric power usage in the recharging of mobile phones. His invention, the Hatua Shoe Charger, has been described  in ‘The New Digital Age’ by Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, as ‘an innovation from the ground up’.  It is, indeed, a mobile phone charger built-into a shoe. Mutua explains his inventionMutua explains his invention

(c) AfricaBrains.net

Anthony Mutua presenting the Hatua Shoe Mobile Phone Charger

The Hatua Shoe Charger does not use conventional electricity. Thanks to an ultra-thin crystal chip, fitted into the sole of a shoe, the pressure exerted by a walking human is stored and converted into electrical energy. A cable is then used to link the chip to a charging terminal into which a phone is plugged for charging.

According to Mr. Mutua,  a shoe charger wearer only needs to walk about 800 meters to accumulate sufficient energy for a full battery’s charge. The energy can then be harvested in one of two ways: the phone can either be charged, using an  extension cable that links the shoe to the pocket, while the wearer walks; or the energy could  be stored for later use thanks to the chip’s storage capacity. The shoe charger is also specially designed to power up several devices at a time.

Now, how much energy can the shoe mobile phone charger generate? Well, it depends. Yes, it depends on how long, slow or fast their wearer walks.The longer the walk, the greater the pressure exerted and thus, the greater the energy converted.  The faster the walk, the greater the energy produced.

The Hatua charger is  waterproof and dust proof. Its chip can also be attached to a different shoe if the original one wears off, hence a guarantee for longer life span. According to the inventor, the charger’s chip can serve for between six and eight years before petering out. 

This innovation holds the potential to save many from the stress of unannounced power cuts, but its propagation is yet to attain anticipated heights. Despite having been made public in 2012, erratic power supply continues to be a  huge problem for mobile phone users. The reason is simple. Hatua wearable technologies is yet to overcome the challenges linked to the local mass production of the mobile charger. The unavailability of production machines and raw-materials  has made the outsourcing of services unavoidable and  increased the cost of production by at least 40%. Finances have also been a huge challenge. Despite winning several awards for innovation, the shoe charger’s inventors have had to resort to crowdfunding for help to mass produce the device Contribute to the mass production of Hatua Chargers . While looking forward to new partnerships and greater empowerment, Hatua shoes are subject to counterfeiting and unlicensed duplication.

About the Author

Vandoline NKWAIN
Vandoline Nkwain is a journalist and cross-cultural communications professional. Having a strong academic and professional background, she aims at using The Afro-Report to trigger positive change in Africa. Experience tells that stories told by real people empower more than blind mass accounts of events. Therefore, using testimonies as a base, Vandoline recounts real people's struggles and success stories to enable others rise above their confines. She does not only tell the news, but mobilises you to act upon it to make a difference. 'We are the future' is her watchword.

459 Comments on "A charger in Every Shoe: Kenya’s Shoe-based Mobile Phone Charger"

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