Finally, M-KOPA Solar might have found its holy grail, a move likely to turn the green energy financer’s fortune around and reduce its dependency on investor money and turn a profit.
Originally distributing solar lighting kits in East African homes for a meagre Ksh 3,500 deposit and Ksh 50 daily for a year (Ksh 21,750), the firm realized it could maintain its solar energy route but add more items to its inventory to get any significant returns.
Today, the firm launched its first solar-powered digital flat screen TV emotively aiming to appeal to the rural folks who may never have heard of or seen a TV set let alone own one. Backed with stats from Kenya Audience Research Foundation 2015, TV only reaches 31 percent of the entire adult population daily, leaving out a huge 69 percent in the dark. The firm has sold 500 solar TVs already.
However, from today the firm says existing customers who have finished paying off their M-KOPA payment plans are now able to extend their KES 50 per day payment plan to upgrade to the “M-KOPA + TV” system. After completing the 2-year payment plan, customers own the television and solar power system outright and can enjoy viewing without any ongoing bills. (Ksh 36,500)
According to Jesse Moore, CEO at M-KOPA, “What’s remarkable about the M-KOPA + TV is it enables customers to turn the same KES 50 per day that they used to burn on kerosene into a solar-powered 16 inch TV. We are literally turning dirty fossil fuels into a renewable, digital, modern home.”
New customers take the M-KOPA 400 option which comes with a 20W PV panel, a 16” digital TV, two lights, a torch, a phone charger, and a radio and is available for a deposit of KES 8,000 plus a year of daily payments of KES 125. (Ksh53,625 in total)
Though M-KOPA is so emotive on this issue, bringing out the fact that owning a TV is life-changing to its off-grid customers, its big business for it.Do the math.
“Owning a TV is life-changing for our off-grid customers. Many of them have traditionally had to pay to watch in a café or bar, or missed out on news and current events because they could not afford to be connected to information. We are now going beyond the grid to offer TV to homes all over Kenya. It’s great for the family to be able to watch together in the comfort and safety of their home,” says Moore.
Safaricom’s Bob Collymore also agree on the importance of an affordable digital TV.
“M-PESA and Safaricom are helping make digital TV affordable and accessible for the first time for millions of people. I think M-KOPA’s innovation signals a fundamental change for TV audiences in Kenya. We creating the genesis of a new economy based on clean energy that promises to include groups who have been previously marginalised.”
Safaricom also promised to develop free educational content for kids in rural homes in the near future.