Off-grid solar company Pawame has been selected as a semi-finalist for the Innovate for Refugees Competition organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum – Pan-Arab Region for generating affordable, clean and safe energy to the residents of Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya.
According to Majd Chaaya, Pawame’s Chief Technology Officer, “The plight of refugees is one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian challenges, particularly in Africa. At Pawame we have assembled a strong team of skilled and knowledgeable innovators who are deploying technology that meaningfully improves and even transforms life for refugees in Kakuma.”
The MIT-sponsored competition attracts the best tech-driven solutions addressing the refugee crisis and rewards innovative concepts from across the globe that alleviate life-threatening challenges faced by displaced millions.
Pawame is working in partnership with non-profit REFUNITE which unites family members separated in conflict situations, to enable a free and offline Bluetooth enabled mesh communication network throughout the refugee camp.
The firm is also seeking to raise $250,000, create 50 jobs and better the lives of over 5000 people by the end of 2018 to drive electrification and connectivity in Kakuma through the distribution of its solar home system on an 18 month pay-as-you-go/rent-to-own model with affordable daily payments of $0.50.
In addition to being a charging solution that supports the use of smartphones, the solar home systems will also provide the conventional benefits of nighttime lighting (up to four lights), as well as appliances such as radio and TV.
“We are proud to be leading this effort in Kenya to provide mobile penetration and clean and affordable energy to such underserved markets,” said Pawame CEO Maurice Parets adding that this model of decentralized energy and communication can be easily replicated in refugee camps the world over.
Pawame will also showcase innovation across business models for connecting refugees, humanitarian cash transfers and the potential for mobile-enabled utility solutions to expand into disaster-affected areas at the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress set to hold in Barcelona in March this year.