NAIROBI, Kenya — The country of Kenya, home to 51 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, has slowly become the leading power sector. Many solar technology initiatives continue to develop more reliable systems and innovations to help combat poverty in Kenya.
Globally, there are 940 million people without access to consistent electricity. Out of that number, more than 17 million are in Kenya. That is to say, millions of people are without access to lighting, internet access and the overall digital society. Thus, many Africans must use candles and kerosene lamps to see as night falls or batteries to charge their mobile phones. With such limited options, it makes daily life that much more challenging.
However, many companies have been and continue to bring access to communities throughout Kenya, such as Pay-As-You-Go Solar Technology.
What is Pay-As-You-Go Solar Tech?
Pay-As-You-Go Solar Technology is a new wave business model that provides more convenient and affordable access to electricity. Just as it sounds, solar power generates the electricity, making it easily renewable and healthy for the environment. As for the payment plan, many of the companies that provide these services offer inexpensive payment options. For most Kenyans, this business model is their first time using digital money and financial services.
While there are various companies out there working and developing, a few organizations have been at the forefront of the movement. These are Azuri, M-KOPA and Sun Transfer Kenya.
Azuri, established in 2012, is a technology company that delivers low-priced solar home systems to off-grid communities. So far, the company is in 12 sub-Saharan countries, including Kenya. Additionally, at just 50 cents a day, the Azuri Quad Solar Home Systems offers a full-package of lighting for homes with items such as:
- LED lights
- Bright tube light
- Rechargeable radios
- Rechargeable torches
- Mobile phone chargers
- 8 hours of power
These solar systems are available on a weekly or monthly payment installment plan. This type of financing makes it far easier for Kenyan communities to pay without going broke. Moreover, once customers pay off their bill, the system is theirs to own. Thus, any energy that the system provides becomes free. Additionally, the payments made help customers build up a “payment profile,” which can help with any future financial services they may need. On the whole, Azuri estimates that its payment system allows consumers to cut their spending by half.
Azuri’s work is a significant factor in reducing poverty in Kenya. The company provides a new way of life and also helps to grow the local job market. Here are a few highlights of the company’s work:
- 150,000+ systems sold
- 5,000+ jobs created
- An average of 50,000+ enjoying clean energy
- 12,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases counteracted
- 750,000+ lives changed
Overall, Azuri focuses on bringing consumers into the digital environment no matter where they are.
M-KOPA, created in 2010, is a Kenyan based company actively working to help end poverty in Kenya through its innovative business model. The company refers to itself as a “connected asset financing platform” serving underfinanced communities. The business’s finance model allows customers to access products and services while paying off their bills through small payments. Thus, consumers not only gain immediate access to a necessary resource but build up their financial portfolio. With this, M-KOPA has been able to provide millions of dollars in financing to its customers.
Around three-quarters of sub-Saharan Africa has never used the internet. Therefore, the products and services from M-KOPA allow Kenyans to access the internet for the first time. These products are bringing Kenyans into the 21st century, enabling them to communicate globally. With these items comes the ability to bank online, listen to world news, create businesses and overall education.
M-KOPA provides various products such as:
- Entertainment channels
- Cooking machinery
All in all, M-KOPA has a continuous impact on Kenyan communities. Currently, the business has five global offices, over 100 service centers, 1,000+ employees and more than 900,000 happy customers.
Sun Transfer Kenya
Sun Transfer Kenya is a Kenyan based company founded in 2009. The company’s goal is to provide the latest and greatest solar technology to rural, off-grid communities. It provides various solar products like:
- Solar home systems (solar tv, lanterns)
- Solar water heaters
- SME Solara products
- Solar barber kits
- Phone chargers
- Fishing lights
The company sells all of the products with PAYG and for ownership. On the whole, Sun Transfer Kenya has provided 50,000 lanterns and 10,000 solar home systems. The impact of these now easily accessible products is life-changing. As Kenyans can better connect with the world, they can better their country.
By and large, Pay-As-You-Go Solar Technology has a positive and productive effect on ending poverty in Kenya. These innovations allow communities to operate more efficiently, become self-sustaining and build their economy. Not to mention, they help keep their environment clean with low emissions from energy-efficient technologies.
– Sallie Blackmon