M-KOPA Solar today announced that it has connected over 20,000 off grid homes in Uganda affordable solar power. It is now expanding its distribution nationwide and targeting to add 50,000 more homes by the end of 2015.
M-KOPA Solar is the global market leader of ‘pay-as-you-go’ energy for off-grid customers. Launched in Kenya in October 2012, M-KOPA now provides solar power to over 150,000 Kenyan homes. M-KOPA began pilot operations in Eastern Uganda in mid-2013 and is now scaling up across the country.
M-KOPA’s rapid growth has been driven by its revolutionary payment plan, which makes high-quality solar affordable, even to those living on low-income. Customers can acquire the company’s latest solar system – the M-KOPA III – for a deposit of UGX 99,000 plus 365 daily payments of UGX 1400. The daily price is cheaper than what customers would pay on average for the equivalent in kerosene lighting and charging services.
After a year of daily payments, customers own their systems outright with no further billing. The deposit is fully refundable and customers can receive real-time customer support from M-KOPA’s toll free call center, 7 days a week. All payments are made conveniently over either MTN Mobile Money or Airtel Money platforms.
The M-KOPA III comes with an 8W solar panel, a high quality lithium battery, two LED solar lights with switches, a solar rechargeable LED torch, a solar rechargeable radio and a mobile phone charger. The M-KOPA III is upgradeable to include two additional solar lights – sold separately.
Jesse Moore, Managing Director and Co-Founder, M-KOPA Solar, says, “We are very proud of the M-KOPA III solar home system and our success to date in Uganda. Together we are helping Ugandans get rid of kerosene, improve their standard of living and save money all at once. It’s a win-win for everyone.’’
M-KOPA Uganda has added more than 20,000 customers in the past 15 months. According to Anthony Weremaka, General Manager, M-KOPA Uganda: “In Uganda M-KOPA is now connecting over 500 new homes to solar each week, and even bigger growth lies ahead. We have nearly 100 terrific staff and 200 sales agents across the country who earn a good income selling M-KOPA products and services. We’ll be doubling in size over the course of this year and so looking for other talented people to join our team, be part of this great company and change people’s lives.”
Customers are connected at one of the 15 service centers across the country, or they can call 0800122333 to arrange an appointment with a direct sales representative. The number of service centers are set to double to achieve national distribution by end of this year.
Jesse Moore concludes, “In many markets around the world, solar is seen as something of a luxury. But in Uganda solar is giving people an essential foot on the energy ladder and helping them save money. We are proud to have 20,000 customers already but also know we are only beginning to make our positive impact in Uganda – the best is yet to come.”
M-KOPA Solar, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, is the market leader of ‘pay-as-you-go’ energy for off-grid customers. Since its commercial launch in October 2012, M-KOPA has connected more than 175,000 homes in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to solar power, and is now adding over 500 new homes each day.
The success of M-KOPA stems from making solar products affordable to low-income households on a pay-per-use installment plan. Customers acquire solar systems for a small deposit and then purchase daily usage “credits” for US $0.45, or less than the price of traditional kerosene lighting. After one year of payments customers own their solar systems outright and can upgrade to more power.
All revenues are collected in real-time via mobile money systems (such as M-PESA in Kenya) and embedded GSM sensors in each solar system allow M-KOPA to monitor real time performance and regulate usage based upon payments. This connected design means that M-KOPA is processing vast amounts of data (i.e. over 10,000 mobile payments per day) via the company’s proprietary cloud platform, M-KOPAnet.
As of March 2015 M-KOPA employs over 500 full time staff across East Africa and sells through a network of 1,000 direct sales agents. It has also commenced licensing its technology to partners in other markets.
M-KOPA has been recognized for its pioneering business model and scale, notably winning the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize, being selected as the top New Energy Pioneer at the 2014 Bloomberg New Energy Finance awards and earning the 2013 FT/IFC Excellence in Sustainable Finance Award.