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Obama plays with 'soccket' energy-creating soccer ball in Tanzania

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   July 2, 2013 at 10:33 AM   |   Comments

July 2 (UPI) -- On his final day in Africa, President Barack Obama got a little kicky while paying a visit to a power plant in Ubungo, Tanzania.

Aides handed Obama a white "soccket" ball, a soccer ball with a hole for a charging cable. The balls generate energy for people who don't have access to power grids by harnessing the kinetic energy from play.

Jessica Matthews, a co-founder of Uncharted Play and a dual citizen of the U.S. and Nigeria, invented the ball at the age of 19.

You can turn "thirty minutes of play [into] several hours of battery," Matthews told Obama.

The president tossed the ball in the air, deftly dribbled it on his feet and then headed it.

"I don't want to get too technical, but I thought it was pretty cool," Obama said in his remarks touting the Power Africa initiative. "You can imagine this in villages all across the continent."

Nearly 70 percent of Africans lack access to reliable energy, Obama said.

"In order for this to work, though, all of us have to feel a sense of urgency," he said. "If we are going to electrify Africa, we've got to do it with more speed. We want to focus on speed but we also want to do it right. The United States intends to be a partner."
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