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Published on February 28th, 2013 | by James Ayre


Pay-As-You-Go Solar Startup Bringing Cheap, Clean Lighting To Kenya

February 28th, 2013 by  

A new pay-as-you-go solar startup in Kenya is aiming to provide a cheap and pollution-free replacement for the ubiquitous kerosene lamps there. Currently, most rural residents in Kenya use kerosene lamps for lighting their homes, which is not only rather expensive, but also creates a great deal of indoor pollution. By offering a clean and affordable replacement for these lamps, the residents in these areas stand to benefit greatly.


“To help bring fume-free and affordable power to rural Kenya, M-KOPA Solar offers a small solar power system to residents for just a down payment and an ongoing pay-as-you-go agreement, which lets low-income earners get a system for their home or business. The system, from d.light solar, consists of a 4 W solar panel, 3 adjustable lights, a mobile phone charging station, and a base station that manages and displays the user’s credits.”

With the initial deposit being only about $30, and the daily rate hovering around $0.46, the system is within the grasp of many people in the country. The entire unit can also be paid off rather quickly, typically in less than a year. Since kerosene lamps cost, roughly, about $0.70 a day, the M-KOPA system is significantly cheaper. And because of the nature of the pay-as-you-go system, even those without steady employment can benefit, simply using it when they can afford to. And, once paid off, the system is completely free, potentially opening up funds for a level of personal entrepreneurship not typically available to the poorer people in Kenya.

This isn’t the only startup helping to bring solar-powered lighting to the developing world. This is actually a pretty hot cleantech sector these days. Its cost-effectiveness is one clear reason why.

Source: TreeHugger
Image Credits: M-KOPA 
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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Otis11

    Rent-to-own solar is a great concept and I wish it would spread! It could even be very useful in the developed world for large rooftop arrays!

    But these projects for developing countries are really amazing too. Not only do they improve the health of the family and give them better light than kerosene lamps, but by also allowing them to save money while renting it and save even more after they own it, it gives them a fighting chance to pull themselves up and further improve their family’s quality of life!

    The only thing I worry about with this project is the $30 up front costs. How many of them can afford that? Sure some will be able to, but the really poor who barely make ends meet will have to scrimp and save a LONG time to afford $30.

    Are there any projects where we can chip in and pay the initial costs, then have the money that they pay back spread to buying one for their neighbors until the entire village is electrified?

  • beernotwar

    I think it’s important to consider the long term benefit of bringing solar to developing countries. While we all want impoverished parts of the world to improve their standard of living, the world can’t support more people using fossil fuels the way developed nations do. By starting them out with renewables, hopefully as they develop they will build clean energy infrastructure as they go, rather than having to retrofit it as we’re doing in the US.

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