In summer 2013, a team of MIT faculty and students traveled to western Uganda to conduct CITE’s first-ever product evaluation. Researchers conducted hundreds of surveys with consumers, suppliers, manufacturers, and nonprofits to evaluate 11 locally available solar lantern models.
The team assessed solar lanterns from three integrated perspectives: suitability (does a product perform its intended purpose), scalability (can the supply chain effectively reach consumers), and sustainability (is the product used correctly, consistently, and continuously over time).
CITE’s first-ever evaluation report includes a Consumer Reports-style Solar Lantern Comparative Rating Chart, an in-depth supply chain analysis, and an in-depth analysis of Solar Sister, a regional nonprofit organization and key player in Uganda’s solar lantern market.
Each solar lantern was given a rating score from 0 to 100 based on how the product’s attributes and features fared. Attributes included characteristics common and central to solar lanterns like brightness, runtime, and time to charge. Features included characteristics common, but less central to the solar lanterns like ability to charge a cell phone.
- A solar lantern’s ability to charge a cell phone was one of the most crucial features to the users surveyed.
- For users surveyed, the number one barrier to adoption was cost. Users cannot afford the product, and microfinance options are limited.
- Users surveyed lack confidence in the product based on poor experiences with other solar lanterns in the past.
Once you have reviewed the report, please take a moment to submit a survey. We appreciate your time.
How can independent product testing be made more sustainable for emerging countries?
Independent product testing—whether it's conducted by CITE in emerging countries or Consumer Reports here in the US–can be costly and time-consuming. How can we reduce the time and cost of...
There's a great new piece on CITE's solar lantern report by Greenlight Planet. You can read it here.
Join us for "Finding What Works in Global Development" today at 5pm in the MIT Media Lab. We'll be discussing results of our solar lantern research.
CITE's solar lantern research in Uganda was recently featured in SciDevNet. Check out the article here.
BetaBoston has just published a new story about CITE's evaluation work, including our solar lantern research in Uganda. Read more.
CITE's first-ever evaluation report, Experimentation in Product Evaluation: The Case of Solar Lanterns in Uganda, has been released! Read it here.
“Experimentation in Product Evaluation: The Case of Solar Lanterns in Uganda, Africa” is authored by Bishwapriya Sanyal, Daniel Frey, Stephen Graves, Olivier de Weck, Jarrod Goentzel, Derek Brine, Jennifer L. Green, Jeffrey Asher, Jonars Spielberg, Brittany N. Montgomery, Timothy Breitbach, Ali Farahanchi, Maitagorri Schade, Maia Majumder, Amit Gandhi, Victor Lesniewski, Christopher Pombrol, and Corinne Carland.