Using mobile money to buy water and solar power in east Africa
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
For many of Thomas Duveau’s customers in rural, off-grid communities in Tanzania, buying a solar panel system for their home will be their first big commercial transaction, and probably the largest of their life.
Mobisol’s solar panel systems can cost over $1,000 (£599), which is unaffordable for many sub-Saharan Africans, whose annual income is as little as $1,600. However with a business model that encourages incremental payments over 36 months, offers transparent payment through mobile banking, and encourages residents to use their panels for profit, this energy option is becoming increasingly appealing to farming communities across Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Solar energy provides a cheaper and safer alternative to diesel generators, kerosene lamps and old batteries, but a key barrier to access is cash.