By James Ratemo, Nairobi, Kenya
The headache that goes with carrying multiple chargers when using two or more phones may be soon be a thing of the past.
Plans are underway to make available a universal charger, which is compatible with all handsets. The charger will make life much simpler for the consumer, who will use it for future handsets, and charge his mobile phone anywhere from any available charger.
The gadget will also curb the environmental menace arising from electronics.
Gadget of convenience
Currently, most mobile phones use chargers that only work on one kind of device. Incase you lose a phone, the accompanying charger and other accessories become useless and eventually end up in dumpsite.
The situation is especially common in Africa where the art of sorting out garbage at the source is yet to take root.
In most developed nations like in Europe, electronic waste is never mixed with other house hold refuse. This makes recycling easy and profitable.
In Germany for instance, every neighbourhood has clearly demarcated bins that make garbage sorting easy. Glass, food remains, metal and electronic wastes are dropped in different bins.
Mobile phone manufacturers meeting in Barcelona, Spain last month, set January 2012 as the year that the charger would be unveiled to the world market.
All new mobile phones by then would support a universal charging connector, and the chargers would also meet the efficiency targets set out by the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP).
OMTP is the industry body that developed the technical requirements behind the universal charger.
The industry standardised mobile charger is expected to save energy and money for mobile users, while at the same time ensuring that the industry adopts a common format for the mobile phone charger connection.
Leading phone manufacturer, Nokia, has already supported the initiative, which is driven by the GSMA and major mobile manufacturers,
Following suit, other mobile devices manufacturers are upbeat on the introduction of the common handset charger especially in supporting mobile telephony penetration in sub-Saharan Africa.
“It is envisaged that the new charger would reduce by 50 per cent standby energy consumption, while making the use of mobile phones friendlier to the consumer,” Ms Dorothy Ooko, Communications Manager Nokia, East and Southern Africa told The Standard.
Ms Ooko said Nokia already has a standard charger (2mm), which is used by more than one billion people around the world.
“The new initiative would make it possible for consumers to continue to use this and the common charger, reducing waste and increasing convenience for users,” she argued.
She said the new product would be an important step in addressing environmental issues arising out of mobile chargers and saving resources that can be used to address poverty, and hence lead to the achievement of Vision 2030 goals. The chargers will also include a higher efficiency rating, which is up to three times more energy-efficient than an unrated charger currently in the market.
And with the environmentally friendly charges being manufactured each year, the industry can expect to reduce greenhouse gases in manufacturing and transporting.
To ensure the uptake of a universal charging solution, the operators and manufacturers who have partnered with the GSMA to launch this initiative are working alongside the OMTP to rollout the new solution to meet the targets set for 2012.
The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the body unites more than 750 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. In the local scenario, the universal charger comes as a reprieve.
Most second hand phones in the market come without chargers. This means one has to buy a charger and usually it is extremely difficult to find affordable original chargers on sale.
This then makes users to resort to counterfeit chargers, which according to experts, spoil batteries. The universal charger will therefore mean, a blow to charger counterfeiters.