Phones4Power: Using Mobile Phones to Run Micro-Grids in Africa
Friday, June 19, 2015
Kenya-based business SteamaCo is harnessing the power of mobile to bring affordable electricity access to rural, off-grid communities. SteamaCo’s smart technology allows solar micro-grid owners to monitor their performance remotely and capture consumer payments via mobile money platforms, thereby overcoming the traditional challenges of keeping grids working reliably and profitably.
This simple but fundamental transition stands to make investment in solar micro-grids a truly compelling prospect, bringing electricity to millions and giving local entrepreneurs the tools to thrive.
SteamaCo’s transformative approach has been recognised at a global level by clean energy charity Ashden – the company has just won both the Ashden International Gold Award and Business Innovation Award.
Tapping into the mobile revolution
Speaking at this month’s Business of Energy event in London, SteamaCo co-founder Sam Duby said the company was “standing on the shoulders of giants” by harnessing the explosive popularity of mobile money platforms in Kenya. Some 25% of Kenya’s GDP now flows through M-Pesa, the country’s flagship and ubiquitous mobile money platform. Meanwhile, mobile internet use in Africa is predicted to grow at double the rate of the rest of the world over the next five years.
“The world is getting smarter and we’re just one of a number of companies tapping into this growing ‘internetisation’ to bring change to people’s lives,” enthused Duby. “Developing communities have traditionally been viewed as too poor to use sophisticated energy services, but we aim to show that is simply not the case.”
Referring to smart thermostat startup Nest, now owned by Google, he said: “We call ourselves ‘Nest for the rest’. We’re using the same type of technology and the same intelligent processes to catalyse major social and environmental benefits.”