East Africans Now Buying Solar Power on Mobile Phones

Fredrick Ngugi July 29, 2016
US President Barrack Obama engages a beneficiary of M-Kopa Solar on his recent tour to Kenya. Forbes

In a bid to bring clean energy to many homes in the rural areas, M-Kopa Solar, a Kenyan company, has enabled the East African community to purchase solar power on their mobile phones.

To acquire a complete M-Kopa solar system, the buyer is supposed to deposit $35 and then continue to pay the remainder on a daily basis through M-Pesa, a Kenyan mobile money transfer system. The user is required to pay $0.43 each day for 365 days, after which they own the system.

This translates into 20,000 Kenyan shillings for the entire system, a deposit of 3,500 Kenyan shillings, and 50 shillings per day to clear the balance.

M-Kopa Solar says it has thus far connected more than 375,000 homes to affordable solar power, adding that its customers are able to enjoy 47 million hours of kerosene-free lighting every month.

Other than supplying the East African community with cheap and readily available solar power, the company is also creating employment opportunities in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. So far, it has employed close to 3,000 people and projects to hire even more.

What Is M-Kopa Solar Power?

M-Kopa Solar is the brainchild of Jesse Moore, former managing director of Signal Point Partners, and Nick Hughes, a former Vodafone executive and a member of the team that developed M-Pesa.

A complete M-Kopa solar power system consists of two LED bulbs, an LED flashlight, a rechargeable battery, adaptors for charging phones, and a solar panel that’s mounted on the rooftop.

Many homes, especially in the rural areas and slums, have significantly cut down on kerosene, which is known to produce harmful toxins that cause serious health complications.

Small vendors who operate in premises that are not connected to power are using the new solar power system to keep their businesses open until late in the night.

Students from poor families in the rural areas are now able to study at night without choking from the fumes given off by kerosene lamps.

Last Edited by:Deidre Gantt Updated: June 19, 2018


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