Kenya’s giant telecoms firm deviates into solar business

Integrated telecommunications company Safaricom has unveiled a first-of-its-kind energy solutions for homes through its M-KOPA solar project, focused on providing cheap, clean energy for Kenyan households.

The project will enable low-income homes to switch from paraffin dependent energy source to solar energy.

New users will be required to pay KSh2,500 (US$30) as a deposit for the solar energy unit, and the rest in instalments of up to KSh40 (US$0.5) daily via M-Pesa mobile money service, for a period of one year. This is in comparison to the KSh70 (US$0,8) they spend daily on paraffin without factoring in the fuel’s price fluctuation.

Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore said: “The barrier to large-scale adoption of solar lighting has been the high upfront cost of a home system, which makes it unaffordable to the majority of Kenyans.

“Indeed the penetration of solar lighting products in Africa as a whole remains at less than 2 percent. M-KOPA Solar has been developed to remove this barrier by making solar home systems affordable and accessible to low income consumers.”

M-KOPA Solar has been in business since 2011. It aims to connect consumers to affordable energy and works with d.light, a manufacturer of affordable solar energy tools.

“M-KOPA succeeds when our customers save money. We have over 1,000 customers in Kenya already, with a wide majority telling us how good it feels to save money while getting far better lighting than with kerosene and the convenience of mobile phone charging at home,” Jesse Moore, the Managing Director of M-KOPA, said.

M-KOPA has an ambitious vision to spread their solutions throughout the country, now with over 75 dealers in counties including Eldoret and Kitale. Over the next quarter, it plans to have signed up 250 dealers in Kenya.

The chairman of M-KOPA, formerly Global Head of M-Pesa for Vodafone Group,Nick Hughes, hailed the partnership with Safaricom acknowledging that it will help spread the service across Kenya.

Posted in: Telecoms

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