M-Kopa Solar Lamp Hits Big Among Kenyans In Rural Areas

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

From Business Daily

Daily payments for M-KOPA, a credit-based solar lamp that is topped up through the M-Pesa service, have risen to 10,000 making it Safaricom’s second biggest pay-bill customer after Kenya Power.

M-KOPA Tuesday lowered by Sh10 to Sh40 per day the amount that customers will pay to access its solar lamps.

The lamps are programmed in such a way that they automatically switch off whenever customers default on the daily payments.

“We have already connected 90,000 Kenyan homes to clean energy and with this upcoming suite of Safaricom-branded devices we aim to reach at least one million homes in the next four years,” said Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore during launch of M-KOPA 3, which has more features than the earlier two versions.

M-KOPA 3 comes with a solar-powered radio and mobile phone charger. The new version has a rechargeable torch and expandable solar panel.

The company estimates that the reduction in daily charges from Sh50 could increase M-KOPA’s daily top-ups to 20,000, from just about 1,000 a year ago.

Kenya power’s pay-bill transactions stand at an average of 135,000 per day.

The proportion of Kenyans connected to the national electricity grid is below 30 per cent of the population, leaving many households to rely on kerosene for lighting.

M-KOPA buyers pay Sh2,999 upfront and then settle the balance in daily installments of Sh40 via M-Pesa for a year, bringing the overall cost to about Sh17,599 which is a reduction from the previous Sh20,999.

The reduction of the fee was driven by the removal of VAT on solar powered devices by the government in June.

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