Solar energy provider M-Kopa has set a target to supply one million households in the country with solar-powered digital flat screen television sets by next year.
M-Kopa chief executive, Jesse Moore, said Wednesday that the solar power TVs innovation will offer off-grid households living below a dollar a day an alternative form of energy and access to television programming.
Mr Moore estimated that 69 per cent of Kenyan adults are in the “dark” for either lack of access to power or failure to afford TV sets.
The 16-inch TVs will offer 26 digital channels for free. “We want to make access to television available in two ways: turning a bottle of kerosene that goes for Sh45 to a complete TV cabinet for Sh50 daily for a year – for M-Kopa clients and others through several M-Pesa payment plans; and diesel generator users to get a modern M-Kopa 400 kit at Sh125 daily for one years,” said Mr Moore.
The M-Kopa 400 kit comes with the 16” TV, a radio, solar panel, aerial, two head lights and a torch. For a new customer who wants to take it up, one is required to make a Sh7,999 deposit through M-Pesa and a subsequent Sh125 daily for a year.
Those who want to purchase upfront can pay Sh45,000 one off.
Mr Moore said that customers with good credit standing with them will be communicated to when they become eligible for an upgrade.
They will own the TV and solar power system outright after a two-year payment plan.
Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore said during the launch that the telecommunications giant is happy to help make digital TV affordable and accessible for not only those who cannot afford but also those who want other options besides the national grid connection.
He said that he “highly doubts the country will achieve the 80 per cent grid connection” since there are many off-grid options that many would wish to explore.
“The much the government can do is say 70 per cent. Some of the customers we interacted with say that they prefer not be connected with wires which can simply be cut due to unsettled electricity bills and that they preferred some stand-alone solutions like M-Kopa,” said Mr Collymore.
Mr Collymore said that 6.5 million Safaricom smartphones out of the about 24 million are not connected since many Kenyans cannot afford to charge them.
“It is great to be able to turn on a light, charge my phone and listen in on my favourite radio show, watch TV and my wife can now catch her soap operas,” said Lucas Ochieng, an M-Kopa customer from Kisumu.
The M-Kopa TV plus solar system can run for at least four hours if the system is still being used to charge a phone, radio or other devices and up to eight hours uninterrupted.