Partnership Brings Affordable Solar Power to Tanzania’s Off-Grid Consumers

Off-grid pay as you go solar-Azuri
Image courtesy of Azuri/

PayGo solar expert Azuri Technologies, mobile network operator Tigo and principal cellular retail operator Lotus Africa announce at Mobile World Congress their strategic partnership to bring integrated pay-as-you-go energy and mobile payment services to rural households in Tanzania.

The partnership aims to bring solar power, mobile phone charging and mobile money services to over 100,000 rural off-grid consumers in the next 2 years, building on Tigo’s extensive distribution networks and leading mobile money payment system which is called Tigo Pesa.

True connectivity requires continuous energy access. The World Bank estimates the electrification rate in Tanzania to be 14%, but records as little as 3% across the rural population. In contrast, mobile network coverage is thriving; according to GSMA Intelligence, Tanzania has recorded 62% SIM penetration as of the last quarter of 2014.

This divergence in connectivity, coupled with the restricted means of rural consumers, necessitates the trio’s compelling approach. Azuri Technologies’ internationally acclaimed home solar systems bring top class design with high quality components to provide enough clean and reliable power for daily home lighting and mobile phone charging. But, instead of a prohibitive upfront cost, the system is unlocked for use by the weekly purchase of top-up credit, typically costing less than the kerosene and phone charging fees it replaces.

The Tigo Pesa mobile payment service provides a secure and easy way for users to pay for their weekly top-ups. This innovative approach of providing renewable energy on a pay-as-you-go basis unlocks the potential for low income, off-grid households to stay connected and take full advantage of daily energy access.

Lotus Africa will distribute and service the solar home systems, providing a wide network of support for customers. This will allow the offering to reach and service even the very remotest communities of Tanzania.

The Lake region of Northern Tanzania will be the first to benefit from this unified offering. Tigo is regarded as Tanzania’s most innovative mobile phone operator, and future plans will also explore the possibility of extending the package to include a competitively priced mobile phone and SIM card, creating an end-to-end package of connectivity for rural customers.

Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of Azuri, commented, “We are delighted to be working with both Tigo and Lotus Africa. This partnership joins together expertise in home solar and mobile network services with an established and reliable route to rural households.”

Cecile Tiano, the Interim General Manager of Tigo added, “This initiative further portrays Tigo as an innovation leader and ideally positions the company to bring digital services to the market. With daily access to energy, our customers can benefit from 24/7 connectivity, and with it, the advantage of a mobile payment service whenever they need it.”

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.