SolarCity, Others Invest $7 Mln In Tanzania’s Off-Grid Electric

SolarCity, Others Invest $7 Mln In Tanzania’s Off-Grid Electric

From Green Tech Media

SolarCity became America’s biggest solar company by providing solar services to people who can’t afford to pay upfront for a system. It’s now looking to do the same for off-grid solar in developing countries.

SolarCity has joined up with venture firms Vulcan Capital and Omidyar Network to invest $7 million into Off-Grid Electric, a Tanzania-based company providing solar lighting services in Africa. The investment round is part of a flurry of venture activity in the off-grid solar sector.

Rumor surfaced last week that SolarCity was making a significant investment in off-grid solar, but Greentech Media was unable to confirm the details. Venture Beat broke the news yesterday of the $7 million round, which puts SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive and Vulcan Capital Managing Director Steve Hall on the board of Off-Grid Electric.

The small investment gives SolarCity an entry point into the booming off-grid solar market where mobile money platforms are enabling pay-as-you-go services in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It’s a seemingly natural fit for a company like SolarCity, which has helped pioneer the solar services model in the U.S.

Off-Grid Electric uses a mobile payment platform that allows customers in Africa to purchase solar lighting in small amounts, rather than having to pay for an entire solar system up front. This approach is becoming increasingly attractive in the developing world due to the ubiquitous use of cell phones. Some have dubbed the model “solar in a bottle,” as it allows people to buy solar lighting services in small amounts just like they would for kerosene lanterns.

The mobile technology shift is dramatically changing the outlook for distributed energy in the developing world.

Read more at Green Tech Media