Though Kenya already has M-Kopa Solar, d:light, Angaza, Mobisol and Azuri among others, a new pay-as-you-go solar platform Pawame has launched in the country to bring power to off-grid communities in the country.
Pawame provides cheap, clean, accessible energy to people living in rural Africa who don’t have reliable access to electricity by distributing and financing pay-as-you-go solar power systems and accessories such as lights, radio, and TV and spread the cost to the consumer through an affordable monthly subscription plan, paid via existing mobile money platforms.
The firm also develops software and hardware for its platform’s mobile payment integration, content provision and data collection and analytics to enhance the use of mobile money payment technology to distribute solar energy services and related hardware to the clear majority of rural households that do not have access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy from as low as 40US cents or 45US cents every day, and after 18 or 24 months respectively, customers get to fully own the system.
According to the firm, $40 cents or $45 cents makes Pawame affordable compared to charcoal or firewood or for kerosene to light homes, all of which have the added burden of polluting the environment and leading to various respiratory diseases that kill many people every year.
“Our Mission is to make electricity accessible to the off-grid communities with small daily energy budgets and little or no opportunities for credit by supplying modern-day devices and services that are aimed at improving their quality of living,” wrote the firm on its website. “Solar power is just the start of an even bigger revolution in consumer finance for low-income households. Pay-as-you-go financing is making electricity accessible and affordable in areas where the power grid is unreliable or non-existent.”
The firm added that by demonstrating that low-income customers can pay for high-value goods and services reliably, the PAYG model has the potential to bring products and services to “the last mile.”
Pawame solar systems cost about $250, but with a daily, weekly or monthly instalments of as low as 45 cents, kerosene and charcoal users in Africa can turn to clean energy affordably by making payments through mobile money.
A Pawame PAYG enabled kits consist of a solar panel, two LED ceiling lights, wall switches, a rechargeable flashlight, a radio, and a phone charger at $250 in cash or pay a small upfront sum of $30 and make more flexible payments through mobile money so as the platform cannot turn off the device remotely should a customer falls behind on payments. After a down payment, a customer pays roughly 45 cents for the next 18-24 months, after which the customer owns the system, and Pawame turns it on permanently.
“Our business model overcomes a number of barriers that poor people face in accessing financial services,” wrote the firm on its site. “Small, digital payments better fit the unpredictable cash flow cycles of low-income households. The down payment encourages poor people to save for asset purchases and repayments create a credit history for poor consumers that may give them access to other financial services.”