In sub-Saharan Africa, small solar home systems have brought electricity to millions of off-grid consumers, which has enabled community upliftment through education, healthcare and business development.
Technological advances in LED lights and mobile money payment systems
have enabled the success of many of these projects. However, UK-based solar energy equipment supplier, Azuri Technologies, has evolved these offerings into one simple and affordable concept – AzuriTV.
With Kenya selected as the pilot region, Azuri partnered with Zuku TV to deliver its
The unit is designed to deliver power all through the night, even on cloudy days. This design is the first use of intelligent automation in a small solar home system; effectively working out a performance target by monitoring the customer’s typical power usage, which then becomes the level that the system aims to achieve under all conditions. In the evening, the system works as it would on days when weather conditions have been favourable.
However, on cloudy days when the stored power is reduced, the system automatically adjusts the brightness of the lights and the rate of phone charging in order to meet the duration of light to the level that the customer is used to. For a once-off non-refundable down-payment of KES 4,999 ($50) for the system, installed free of charge by a local agent, customers pay
a top-up-rate either weekly or monthly via their normal mobile money payment platform.
This enables the customer to use the system as much as they want during the credit period. Over a 130-week contract, the system cost averages KES 99 ($0.98) per day. At the end of the contract, the customer ‘unlocks’ the unit, and they own the system for life, effectively providing them not only with a free television, but more importantly, free electricity.
With over 12 million
In January 2018, Azuri Technologies announced an industry-leading $20 million receivables financing facility – a new way of funding solar that has the potential to revolutionise the off-grid power sector by providing the capital needed to accelerate the growth of solar technology.
As the rural telecommunication infrastructure isn’t able to guarantee coverage to every home for remote maintenance, the system is designed
to not require 24×7 connectivity. To mitigate incidents of theft and vandalism, the product has been designed to automatically lock if tampering is detected.
The parts of the system are cryptographically tied to each other and so a stolen TV
Distribution and logistical challenges are often deterrents for many companies looking to do business in Africa. However, through a strategic distribution and partnership model, these business opportunities have proven successful in and beyond Kenya.
Azuri works hand-in-hand with its local distributor and agent network,
providing support and investment when needed.
OFF-GRID SOLAR IMPACTING ON ECONOMIC ACTIVITY
In a product survey, 98% of
Some 60% of customers with school-age children reported seeing their children improve in reading, writing and speaking skills since the purchase of the home solar system. This insight has been supported by a recent
The GOGLA study entitled Powering Opportunity: The Economic Impact of Off-Grid Solar found that nearly 60% of off-grid solar customers undertook more economic activity within just three months of purchasing a solar home system: whether gaining a new job, using their system directly within a
For more than a third of customers, this access to electricity has already enabled them to increase their monthly income by $35 a month, more than half the average monthly GDP per capita. (https://www.gogla.org/powering-opportunity-theeconomic-impact-of-off-grid-solar). In addition, over 90% of households that replaced toxic kerosene lamps with solar alternatives report that they have experienced improvements in both health and feelings of safety.
Azuri has partnered with East Africa’s favourite farming TV show, Shamba Shape Up, which offers practical advice to farmers on how to improve their farms and how to increase yields. Eighty
of watching the programme; particularly in poultry, dairy, maize and farm records. Seventy-seven
“Now that I can do my house chores at night, I have more time in the day for managing my livestock and crops. Before, I could only manage two acres. Now, I am managing seven acres of cassava,” explains Katherine, an
It is evident that the off-grid solar market is rapidly advancing beyond just lighting and phone charging, and a Bloomberg Report 2016 forecasts that around 15 million off-grid households will have solar-powered television
by the year 2020.
The digital economy has the potential to allow rural Africa to leapfrog conventional market approaches and deliver hugely expanded commercial opportunities. Azuri aims to target the five million people currently outside the power grid within the next five years.
Link to Bloomberg report: https://about.bnef.com/blog/off-grid-solar-market-trends-report-2016/