Several thousand rural Kenyans living off the grid are now welcoming solar-powered televisions into their homes. And if M-Kopa founder and CEO Jesse Moore’s vision of the future comes to pass, several million more people living in rural parts of Africa will be doing the same thing.
As a former aid worker from Canada, Moore knows first hand the challenges that rural Africans living off the grid face. According to CNN writer Sophie Morlin-Yron, Moore believes from his experience that solar power is the best way to bring needed social change and development to places like rural Kenya.
Rural Kenyans have a strong demand for televisions. As Morlin-Yron explains, Kenyans tend to be avid readers of newspapers with a deep interest in politics. Now, those who have the solar-powered televisions are able to watch news from around the globe as part of the 30 or so channels they receive. Some rural Kenyans have been known to walk several miles in hot temperatures to cities where televisions can be seen.
As of August 2016, K-Copa has only sold about 6,000 televisions. But, as Moore tells Reuter’s Benson Rioba, he would like to see that number reach 3 million of the 5 million Kenyan households not connected to the grid. The vision to spread televisions throughout rural Kenya relies on the credit plan M-Kopa offers its customers. The televisions are sold as part of a kit for $530. With a downpayment no more than $79, customers can pay off the television with payments as a little as $1 per day.
The televisions are not without some limitations. As Rioba reports, consumers would like to see the batteries used to power the televisions improve. Presently, the batteries only run for about four hours after they are charged.
Moore tells Rioba that he would eventually like to see the television kits sold in both Tanzania and Uganda. He is also hopeful his company will be able to provide more solar-powered products beyond televisions to the people in Africa who are still living off the grid