YANGON - Panasonic will distribute its new solar lantern in Myanmar starting in January.
Distribution of the lanterns is aimed at providing off-grid energy solutions to areas with limited electricity in Southeast Asian countries. They will be sold at a price of around Ks 50,000 (S$64) in supermarkets and grocery shops across Myanmar.
The 3.5-watt solar panel and built-in rechargeable battery enable the lantern to create and store renewable energy during the day. It doubles up as a light and power source at night, with the added capability to charge small mobile devices such as mobile phones via a USB port.
"Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, the electrification rate in Myanmar is very low. Many still rely on kerosene lamps for light, be it for education or healthcare purposes," said Hisakazu Maeda, chief representative of Panasonic Asia Pacific's Myanmar branch.
"Kerosene lamps pose as fire hazards and contribute to health problems, emitting toxic fumes. The solar lantern was designed and developed to address these societal gaps in developing countries like Myanmar."
Under fine weather conditions, the solar lantern is fully rechargeable in approximately six hours. Through the use of sunlight, it contributes to the reduction of carbon dioxide emission. The lantern's adjustable brightness setting allows it to run between six to 90 hours when fully charged.
The multi-functional product has a USB port, which allows for the charging of mobile phones, an increasingly popular communication device in areas with limited electrical infrastructure.
Panasonic will also deliver the lanterns to villages where they are needed most due to intermittent electricity supply, in partnership with various social institutions, said Hisakazu Maeda.
In February this year, Panasonic donated 3,000 compact solar lights to be used in areas such as healthcare, education and business. These were distributed mainly at camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) for safety and security, education support, psychosocial support, medical and first aid care and camp management meetings.
The donation is part of a global project whose goal is to donate a total of 100,000 solar lanterns through local social institutions, including non-profit and non-governmental organisations, to non-electrified areas in Asian and African regions by 2018.
"We are hopeful that through such concerted efforts, we can improve the quality of life at disaster stricken rural areas as well as communal violence areas. The solar lanterns donated will also contribute towards making a positive difference in the lives of even more people in Myanmar," said Tha Hla Shwe, president of the Myanmar Red Cross Society.
Established in 1918, Panasonic Corporation has expanded globally and now operates more than 500 consolidated companies worldwide, recording consolidated net sales of 7.30 trillion yen (Ks 68.8 trillion) for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Panasonic Asia Pacific, which has its headquarters in Singapore, provides the whole range of the brand's products and solutions across the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region.