Africell and Easy Solar are giving fresh energy to Africa’s solar revolution.
The mobile network operator and clean electricity startup have announced that households in Sierra Leone can buy solar technology using Afrimoney, Africell’s mobile money platform.
In Africa, where mains electricity is often unreliable, solar power is a promising solution. In recent years, barriers to the use of solar electricity have diminished. Panel technology has become more efficient, and solar-powered appliances such as low energy bulbs, chargers, TVs, water pumps, fans and stoves have got cheaper and better.
Financing for solar energy in Africa always been a challenge. On one hand, system-level projects require a particular type of investor: flexible, but with a long-term vision. At the same time, the end-users of solar power – including ordinary households and businesses – have often struggled to afford it because the upfront cost of panels and devices is too high.
In Sierra Leone, Afrimoney and Easy Solar are changing this thanks to a digitised payment system that makes it easier to buy solar panels and benefit from solar power.
Through the Afrimoney platform, users will be able to “rent-to-own” panels and related devices. Payments for durable and high-quality equipment can be made digitally, in weekly or monthly instalments. Afrimoney’s expansive nationwide network of agents in Sierra Leone means that even in rural areas, payment will be convenient, and the management of cash will be easier and safer for both the customer and supplier. Over time, customers paying for Easy Solar equipment using Afrimoney will earn a credit score, opening valuable financial opportunities in other areas.
“A key advantage of mobile money is its wide range of potential use-cases”, says Martison Obeng-Agyei, head of Afrimoney in Sierra Leone. “This initiative is a great example. Afrimoney users in Sierra Leone can now use the platform to power their homes more cleanly and cheaply. Wider access to solar energy is an important economic objective across Africa, and this tie-up moves Sierra Leone closer to that goal”.
Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Easy Solar, Nthabiseng Mosia, explains that the partnership will dramatically improve access to their products in the west African country.
“Easy Solar is present in virtually all parts of the country. We have already installed thousands of panels and provided even more solar-powered devices to end-users. By enabling payment through mobile money, we will be able to do even more, and that is tremendously exciting”.
As in other parts of the world, solar power appeals to African consumers who care about both cost and sustainability. The collaboration between Afrimoney and Easy Solar in Sierra Leone is another example of Africa leading the way with simple and innovative solutions to global challenges.