Azuri PayGo Energy has combined solar and mobile phone technology to bring clean energy to people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. The pay-as-you-go solar home system provides eight hours of emission-free lighting each day and enough power to charge mobile phones. After paying a small one-time installation fee, the user then purchases a scratch card, or uses an integrated mobile money service to top-up their unit. The Azuri system cuts weekly energy spending by up to 50%, which means people start saving money and reducing emissions immediately.
- Azuri’s innovative financing mechanism helps customers self-finance their access to clean solar power, without having to pay high upfront fees, but instead by paying small, regular amounts via mobile phone technology
- Tens of thousands of units have been distributed in 11 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa; in Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Rwanda, Togo, and Ghana
- Hundreds of thousands of people have benefitted from the clean energy that Azuri solar home systems provide
- Azuri calculates that 28.5 million hours of clean light and 9.5 million hours of mobile phone charging have been provided, resulting in 3,504 tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided to date
Globally, more than 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity in their homes. As a result, they are forced to burn expensive and polluting fuels for their basic lighting needs.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, many people burn kerosene as fuel for lighting. Burning kerosene causes harmful indoor air pollution and emits greenhouse gas emissions fuelling climate change.
Clean energy sources, like solar or wind, are often unaffordable in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, where a typical farmer earns USD 2-3 a day and would struggle to afford a basic USD 70 solar system. On average, people in rural Sub-Saharan Africa spend USD 2-4 a week on kerosene for lighting and phone charging, which means their ability to save is limited.
Azuri is transforming the prohibitive upfront cost of renewable energy into a pay-as-you-go model by combining mobile and solar technology.
After paying a small one-time installation fee for the solar home system, the user then purchases a scratch card, or uses an integrated mobile money service to top-up their unit. This top-up costs up to 50% less than their current weekly budget on kerosene and phone charging.
These regular ‘top-ups’ pay off the cost of the solar system; after 18 months the customer fully owns the system and can use renewable energy at no further cost.
Helping the planet
An independent survey showed that while 85% of Azuri customers used kerosene lamps prior to installing the solar home system, only 17% still use kerosene now. Across its operations, Azuri calculates that its systems have provided 28.5 million hours of clean light and 9.5 million hours of emission-free mobile phone charging. This equates to 3,504 metric tons of CO2 emissions avoided to date.
The Azuri PayGo business model supports and fosters a sustainable economy, as local people are recruited by distributors as telephone operatives for customer support, technicians to complete installations, and as local sales agents, benefitting from on-going commission income from the regular top-up sales.
Surveys show that a typical customer will save up to USD 70 in the first year of pay-back. Of those surveyed, 37% of Azuri customers said they spent those savings on school fees; 28% on food and water; and 20% reinvested the money into their businesses.
So far, tens of thousands of units have been distributed in 11 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa; in Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Rwanda, Togo, and Ghana.
The replicable nature of the Azuri PayGo model was recognized in 2013 with a USD 1 million award from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures to support the establishment of Azuri PayGo solar power in Rwanda.
Azuri has recently signed agreements with a leading mobile network operator in Tanzania, with plans to procure 100,000 units over the next two years.
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