Kenya’s green energy M-Kopa has revealed how it has bridged energy needs for low income earners in East Africa. The company, which boasts of clean energy stalwart Al Gore in its shareholding has issued over $233 million in credit to its predominantly low-income customers over the last eight years. Repayments are made via micropayments and M-KOPA has now processed nearly 100 million mobile money payments.
M-KOPA provides off-grid homes and businesses with asset financing for lights, phone charging, radios, televisions, fridges and more. Previously, customers were spending an average of 50c per day on kerosene, candles and phone charging.
The energy company pioneered and built one of the world’s most advanced pay-as-you-go platforms – unlocking solar, information, technology and finance to upgrade lives in over 750,000 homes and businesses.
M-KOPA payments displace this spending and customers are able to save an additional US$650 over the lifetime of their systems. This is generating over $400 million in increased household budgets across M-KOPA’s customer base.
M-KOPA announced this in its 2019 Impact Report, ‘Upgrading Lives’, with partners from Microsoft, Safaricom and Stanbic. It reveals the changes that M-KOPA pay-as-you-go solar systems are having on three million people in 750,000 homes and businesses in East Africa. These range across customer savings, economic inclusion, improvements in livelihoods and climate action.
Jesse Moore, CEO, and Co-Founder M-KOPA says, “Our revenues arrive exclusively in the form of micropayments of $0.50 or a dollar at a time. That our predominantly low-income customers have a choice about making these payments, is the motivating force in our business. We need to provide them with customer service and products that truly make a difference. Our customers want to avoid taking on more expensive, unsecured debt. Affordable asset financing is the future of financial and economic inclusion. We’re showing that when it’s done right, it makes people healthier, wealthier and more productive.”
The report section, Livelihoods Improved, reveals that nearly 50% of M-KOPA customers now undertake more productive activity, whether that is getting a new job, working more hours, or supporting a business.
M-KOPA calculates that in 2018 more than 140,000 of its customers directly generated income through local phone charging services, hosting movie screenings, or using solar lighting in a business.
In Climate Action, it discloses that the 750,000 M-KOPA systems in the market will avoid 1.7 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and black carbon over their lifetimes. It also outlines the energy efficiency gains being made in customer homes and businesses. M-KOPA has increased luminosity for bulbs by 10%, while decreasing power requirements by 20%. Its TVs are 3 times more efficient than the highest-rated TVs currently on general sale in the UK.
Jesse Moore says, “We’re proud to be helping off-grid homes in Africa participate in global climate action. Their carbon dioxide and black carbon emission savings are equivalent to shutting down a coal-fired power station for 150 days. If all the homes in the UK were to replace their televisions with M-KOPA’s 32” model, that country would reduce energy demand by 1,000 MW.”
M-KOPA is cutting down on electronic waste and building ‘circular’ economic activity within its business. It has recycled over 120 tonnes of non-repairable electronic components in the last two years. It is also giving a second life to returned, yet restorable, components through its Starter product. This modified, refurbished version of the Classic system is currently being used in 55,000 very low-income homes.
Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer, Safaricom says, “As a long-term technology and payment partner with M-KOPA we are very excited to see how circular economy principles are being applied to reduce the need for materials, increase affordability for customers and upskill our hardware engineers in Kenya. Our partnership with M-KOPA is helping free millions of people from an expensive and economically-restrictive rental economy.”
Rentia van Tonder Head of Power, Corporate and Investment Banking, Stanbic Bank says, “We’re proud to be providing commercial funding to M-KOPA. We’re improving lives across East Africa, by connecting off-grid homes to solar power and productive assets. Asset finance is critical in unlocking the next wave of household financial and productivity gains in Africa.”
Wairimu Gachara, Microsoft, Enterprise Account Manager concludes, “M-KOPA’s pay-as-you-go platform is powered by GSM and machine-to-machine technology. Together we want to bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to Africa’s 500 million people off-grid market and make the connected home a reality. As M-KOPA’s model continues to take scale, the market for off-grid energy can be as transformative as mobile telephony.”