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Warding Off Lions With Mobiles Shows African Technology Boom

If Emily Parsitau wanted to light her home to ward off lions and intruders, she had to walk for an hour to buy kerosene at the nearest store. Now, she uses a SIM card.

The farmer’s four-roomed home in Kisamis, a rural area on the fringe of Kenya’s Rift Valley, has never had access to the national power grid and she relied on kerosene lamps, when she could fetch the fuel, to light the path toward her cattle, which attracted predators and thieves. That all changed in March when she bought M-Kopa Solar, a sun-powered lighting system that uses mobile-phone technology to track usage and stores energy for when her home and pathway need to be lit up.