An Enlightened Energy Solution for Rural Africa

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Solar energy provider Mobisol has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide 800,000 people and 50,000 small businesses in Kenya with reliable access to solar energy by 2020.

In the process, the Berlin-based company plans to create 150 jobs along its value chain and provide training on solar energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 tons each year.

Launched in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Over 75 percent of Kenya’s population lives without access to electricity. This lack of access is most pronounced in rural areas, where Kenya’s poorest communities are located. Without power to light their homes, charge mobile phones, study and refrigerate food, rural communities are increasingly isolated. Mobisol’s Solar Solutions for Kenya initiative is bridging this gap by providing a comprehensive package of solar equipment including high-powered solar panels, solar batteries, in-home remote monitoring systems, highly efficient LED light bulbs and optional DC appliances.

Through this inclusive initiative, the company aims to install 200,000 solar systems in Kenya by 2020, integrating trusted local partners into its supply chain. Its solar equipment is provided to customers through a three-year loan, with flexible payment plans utilizing mobile phone networks. The products are accompanied by a three-year warranty, free installation and maintenance, and a toll-free service hotline.

Mobisol’s value chain comprises a local sales force and technicians trained at the Mobisol Akademie, its in-house education institute. The company has also partnered with a local university to optimize its training content while sharing its knowledge of renewable energy with Kenyan students. Its local sales and distribution network is eliminating social barriers to product adoption and raising awareness about solar technology in remote rural areas.

“While many energy providers have entered the Kenyan market with products like lanterns and small solar kits, no solution has yet shown to provide more than three lights and a phone charger,” said Thomas Gottschalk, CEO of Mobisol. “Our Solar Solutions for Kenya initiative is showcasing a comprehensive solar system with the potential to improve livelihoods and raise living standards in areas that have thus far been excluded from Kenya’s economic growth. Our customers can run a large solar TV, a stereo or even run a small business on solar energy.”

One of the most remarkable features of Mobisol’s inclusive model is its potential to drive the growth of micro enterprises. In addition to home lighting and mobile-phone charging, Mobisol’s solar solutions are being utilized to power shops, village cinemas and other small businesses. According to one study of Mobisol’s business customers in Rwanda by the mobile-provider group GSMA, access to power is raising these entrepreneurs’ incomes by an average of US$35 per month.

“Mobisol has proven it possible to develop a scalable and sustainable energy solution that is flexible enough to serve rural homes and businesses,” said Paula Paleaz, Programme Manager of the BCtA. “While it helps people to be more productive at home and work, the company is also investing in training to prepare the next generation of Kenyans for the solar revolution in the country”.  

Having electrified over 60,000 households and small businesses in East Africa since 2013, Mobisol is responding to the huge demand for scalable off-grid energy solutions in Kenya. As a result, the company is expanding its value chain by partnering with local solar equipment producer Chloride Exide Kenya Ltd. that has knowledge of the local market. Through its local partnership and training, Mobisol is developing the local workforce while lighting the way for better living in Kenya.

 

Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.

About the Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. 

About Mobisol: Berlin-based solar energy provider Mobisol aspires to provide clean, reliable electricity to millions of households in low-income communities while stimulating the economy and eliminating harmful greenhouse gasses. Having started its first country-based operations in Tanzania in 2013, the country recently launched a major initiative in Kenya. Mobisol’s solar home systems provide enough electricity to power bright efficient LED lights, radios, mobile phones, TVs, DC fridges and a variety of other household appliances. The systems are also powerful enough to run small businesses, enabling entrepreneurial customers to bring in additional income. To date, Mobisol has installed over 60,000 solar home systems in East Africa, enabling 300,000 people to access clean, affordable energy.

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