MTN partners with Fenix International to launch off-grid solar in Zambia

By wael Hussien

MTN, Africa’s largest telecoms company is launching pay-to-own solar home systems in Zambia by extending its partnership with energy and financial services firm Fenix International. The Swedish Embassy in Zambia is committing nearly $3m (SEK 24,750,000) to Fenix in Zambia between now and 2020, with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contributing an additional $750,000 to the venture. 

The launch in Zambia represents the first step in Fenix’s expansion across Africa with their flagship product, ReadyPay Power, which provides off-grid customers access to ultra-affordable solar power. Approximately 15 million Zambians live without access to the electrical grid, representing 80% of the total population and 95% of rural residents.

Fenix will extend its model for making solar power accessible and affordable; a project that has doubled the company’s Ugandan customer base in just 12 months. With backing from the Swedish Embassy and USAID, Fenix expects to reach 850,000 rural Zambians by 2020.

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ReadyPay Power is an expandable solar home system designed to provide power to households and small businesses that the grid has failed to reach. Customers make instalments of as little as $0.20 per day via MTN Mobile Money until they have paid in full. Fenix uses these continuous micro-payments to generate a credit score, enabling customers to access additional system upgrades or financial services.

Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International, commented: “Over 90% of rural Zambians lack access to electricity and have no options other than dangerous candles and kerosene lanterns to light their homes. This is the harsh reality of the situation which we are working to change. Ten years from now, we hope to eliminate the use of candles and be an important part of our customers’ lives across Zambia.”

Wane Ngambi, Head of Mobile Financial Services, MTN Zambia added: “In the past, MTN was focused on voice, and then data. We’ve been working on unlocking the potential of MTN Mobile Money for many rural consumers who have gone without access to basic financial services for far too long.”

 

      

 

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