Econet Solar eyes East Africa with prepaid power device

Telecoms

A prepaid solar device dubbed the ‘HomePowerStation’ and developed by the energy division of African telecoms group Econet is planned to be launched in East Africa.

Econet Solar’s ‘HomePowerStation’ provides lighting and the ability to charge cellphones using in the same way in which airtime is purchased for mobile phones.

The whole system comes with four fluorescent bulbs and a charging unit for mobile phones. The device is targeted specifically at rural and off-grid citizens, and its makers say it can light up a home for about 6 hours after a similar time of charging via the solar panel.

Luc Tanoh, the chief executive officer of Econet Solar, has also explained to ITWeb Africa that the home power station is a device that is attached to the network, meaning that the operator can remotely switch off any device if non-payment occurs or for any other issue.

The company has established its presence in Zimbabwe and Lesotho but it is looking to enter into East Africa with Burundi set in its sights.

“In developed countries to acquire these devices it would cost you $250 to $300,” Tanoh said.

“It is a subsidised product. The way it works is that the customers pay a small deposits about $25 dollars, they get the equipment and then they pay the rest through a daily fee,” Tanoh added.

Tanoh has not ruled out the possibility of entering the Kenyan market either, despite similar products on offer in the nation.

The likes of startup MKopa have already partnered with Kenya’s biggest mobile operator Safaricom to offer solar units that can be paid for via mobile money payment system, MPesa. MKopa says it has already sold over 10,000 of these units.