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Solar systems vendor bags Sh137m prize

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (left) and M-KOPA
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (left) and M-KOPA Solar Managing Director Jesse Moore during the launch of the M-KOPA Solar III in Nairobi Sep 2, 2014. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

M-Kopa Solar, a home solar systems vendor, has bagged Sh137 million ($1.5 million) after winning a global energy award.

The pay-as-you-go solar scheme was awarded the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize in the enterprise and SME categories, a worldwide initiative which honours renewable energy projects.

M-Kopa Solar, powered by M-Pesa payments, becomes the first sub-Saharan Africa-based firm to win the award at the ongoing annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

“The prize brings global attention to M-Kopa Solar's business model, which has brought clean, affordable solar power to 150,000 homes in East Africa in less than three years,” said Jesse Moore, co-founder and managing director, M-Kopa. “We've proven that our technology can scale,” said Mr Moore.

The domestic solar firm said will use the prize money to launch a training and development program called M-Kopa University, which will offer technical and business skills development to employees, sales agents and partners.

M-Kopa University will be hosted at the company’s Nairobi hub and targets to train more than 1,000 staff and 3,000 sales agents across East Africa, as well as to M-KOPA's licensing and distribution partners in other parts of Africa and Asia.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize comes after M-Kopa lowered by Sh10 to Sh40 per day the amount that customers pay to access its solar lamps, from the earlier Sh50 daily amount. This is the second global accolade for M-Kopa Solar after it won the New Energy Finance Award in April last year by media company Bloomberg.

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

M-Kopa has already connected 150,000 Kenyan homes to solar, considered clean energy, and said it now targets to reach one million households by 2018.

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