- What We Do
- Agriculture and Food Security
- Democracy, Human Rights and Governance
- Economic Growth and Trade
- Ending Extreme Poverty
- Environment and Global Climate Change
- Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment
- Global Health
- Water and Sanitation
- Working in Crises and Conflict
- U.S. Global Development Lab
- Cornerstone Partners
- Work with the Lab
- Development Innovation Ventures
- Data & Analytics for Development
- Digital Development
- Global Partnerships
- Grand Challenges for Development
- Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN)
- International Research & Science Programs
- Research and Innovation Fellowships
- Science at USAID
- Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Innovations Program (MERLIN)
$1,000,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Energy
The problem: Off-grid access to energy
Availability of off-grid lighting solutions, such as solar PV systems, is limited in many countries in sub Saharan Africa and the upfront costs are beyond the means of many poor households. In Rwanda, 83% of the population currently lives without grid electricity.
The solution: Innovative micropayment technology
Azuri is the leading provider of pay-as-you-go solar in sub Saharan Africa with its Indigo technology. The pay-as-you-go approach, which is familiar from mobile phones, offers an affordable way for users to adopt new clean energy. Users are able to avoid the normally large up-front costs of solar systems and instead pay for them over small weekly installments. Customers can charge their mobile phone and have 8 hours of lighting per day for typically US$ 1.50 a week.
The program is being delivered in partnership with GVEP International (Global Village Energy Partnership) and aims to both deploy solar home systems in Rwanda and act as a template for deployment of pay-as-you-go solar lighting systems in future countries with low access to electricity. Azuri’s CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said: “This is an important project for Azuri, working with GVEP to deploy pay-as-you-go solar in a country with a less established history of solar power. The success of the project will provide important pointers to help pay-as-you-go solar become deployed widely in sub Saharan Africa.”
GVEP has substantial experience and government relationships in Rwanda. Over the next 18 months, GVEP will work with Azuri and a local distributor on the business model in Rwanda. GVEP will also perform detailed research to evaluate Indigo’s social and economic benefits and impacts. The economics of different distribution channels and customer segments will be reviewed to build the case for private financing of large scale roll-outs of off-grid pay-as-you-go solar solutions
“We will be training small regional retailers and agents on sales techniques and general business skills, and advice the in-country distributor on their marketing strategy and its implementation”, explains David Disch, GVEP’s Country Manager for Rwanda.
Potential impacts, cost-effectiveness, and implications
The DIV grant will fund the creation of a distribution channel and the supply of 10,000 Indigo pay-as-you-go solar systems. The long term goal of the project is to sell one million Indigo units over 5 years, benefiting 5 million people in Rwanda and elsewhere, leading to reductions of 50% or more in household energy costs, cheaper and more convenient phone charging, improved health and safety, and more productive hours in a day for homework, domestic tasks and income generating activities.
In contrast to countries such as Kenya and South Africa, characterized by a well‐established national infrastructure, including mobile banking, widespread awareness of solar power, well‐funded distribution channels, and somewhat higher per capita incomes, Rwanda represents a more challenging market for this business model, and therefore the demonstration effect achieved by the DIV funding will be all the more powerful.
It is expected that this will then grow under its own finance in the coming years.
Azuri brings power at scale to off-grid customers in rural emerging markets, providing basic needs that are regarded as routine in more developed countries. For further information, please visit http://www.azuri-technologies.com/
GVEP works across Africa and the Caribbean. Its experienced executive team operates from regional offices as well as its London head office. GVEP’s Board includes a wide range of private sector and development agency specialists, experts and consultants from the arenas of renewable energy, international development, finance and investment. For further information about GVEP, please visit http://www.gvepinternational.org/
Last updated: August 28, 2015