By Kieron Monks, for CNN
Watly can deliver 5,000 liters of safe drinking water each day. The battery also powers a connectivity hub that provides wireless internet within an 800-meter radius, and a charging station for electronic and mobile devices.
The team behind Watly hopes the machine will bring much needed aid in the development of these areas."This is an infrastructure solution for people without access to three fundamental pillars of civilization," says Watly founder Marco Attisani (center). "We are (taking) people to the heart of the 21st century.
The project has received 1.4 million euros from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research funding program and are planning to collaborate with NGOs and civil society on a local level. “No technology can change the world without a human factor,” says Attisani. “Local partners will care for the logistics, spread the word, play a role in education, and leverage functionality.”
The team also hopes that the machine could lead to a surge of economic growth by helping local entrepreneurs to start businesses. They plan to install 10,000 Watly units across Africa over the next eight years, which they hope will create an estimated 50,000 jobs.
A solar powered machine currently being tested in Ghana could boost development across the rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa – where around 625 million people are without electricity and 39% lack access to safe water.
The Watly machine, created by an Italian-Spanish startup, works by capturing solar energy through photovoltaic panels which is then converted into electricity through an internal battery.
The energy generated through the solar panels is used to produce clean water using a graphene-based filtering process. The company has been testing the technology in rural Ghana and the nest step is to roll out units across Africa. Pictured here are Watly’s Matteo Squizzato and Stefano Buiani testing the water.
In July, Attisani will present the final design of a scaled up 40-meter, 15-ton machine to potential customers and investors.
“We have support from big corporations but I cannot say their names yet,” says Attisani, citing interest from leading mobile phone and energy companies.
The project has also received 1.4 million euros from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research funding program.
“The project could have a huge social and economic impact especially in Africa,” an EU spokesperson said. “It aims to bring clean energy and clean water to people in countries that are in desperate need of both vital resources… and ultimately contribute to raising the living standards of potentially millions of people.”
Attisani stresses the need to involve local NGOs and civil society to drive widespread adoption.
“No technology can change the world without a human factor,” says the entrepreneur. “Local partners will care for the logistics, spread the word, play a role in education, and leverage functionality.”
Beyond subsistence needs, the machines could power a surge of economic growth
“We expect Watly to be a starting point for local entrepreneurs to start businesses,” says Attisani.
Within eight years, the company hopes to install 10,000 units across Africa, and estimates this will create 50,000 jobs. Many of these will relate to construction and maintenance of the machines and their products, while others will come indirectly through businesses benefitting from a reliable supply of vital services.
Attisani believes the model of providing services through localized, sustainable modules could have far-reaching consequences.
“There are going to be hundreds of companies developing technologies similar to Watly,” he says. “This could create a new economic paradigm worldwide.”
Subscribe to news update