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SA trials Coca-Cola’s new community kiosks project

The announcement was made by Coca-Cola’s chairman, Muhtar Kent, at the recent Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.

“Today, we are announcing that we will place between 1 500 and 2 000 units in the form of EKOCENTERs, “downtowns in a box,” or Slingshot water purification systems to deliver further services beyond clean water, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America by the end of 2015.

“Each EKOCENTER will offer a locally tailored mix of products, services and resources that may include safe drinking water, sustainable energy, wireless communications, refrigerated vaccination storage, health education, and other functionality to jump-start entrepreneurship opportunities and community development. Through this commitment, we aim to deliver 500 million litres of safe drinking water, while promoting greater local development in communities that need it most,” says a Coca-Cola press release.

Women and entrepreneurs from local communities will be recruited to operate each EKOCENTER, creating new opportunities for employment in the communities where we install and operate EKOCENTER.

Entrepreneurs selected to operate the EKOCENTERs will be given business skills training similar to that provided by Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program, an initiative designed to economically empower five million women entrepreneurs across Coca-Cola’s value chain by 2020.

“EKOCENTER represents an investment in the future prosperity and progress of some of the most fragile and at-risk communities we serve,” said Kent.

“Through EKOCENTER we have the ability to change lives by offering access to safe drinking water and other needed resources, all while empowering local entrepreneurs. What started as an aspiration is now becoming a reality as we welcome our partners across the golden triangle of business, government and civil society to scale and improve this innovation.”

The first pilot kiosk is sited in Heidelberg, South Africa (pictured above). It is a shipping container with solar panels for power, a satellite dish for wireless communication and a Slingshot water distiller designed by Dean Kamen, the Segway inventor.

The Slingshot technology, developed by DEKA R&D, utilises vapour compression distillation technology to turn nearly any source of dirty water into safe drinking water.

Slingshot setup costs are an issue; for example, the first Slingshots cost more than $100,000 to build, but Kamen has said that he hopes volume will push the price below $2 000.

Read more about the initiative here…