Amsterdam-based impact enterprise NOTS Solar Lamps has joined forces with the government of Rwanda, agreeing on USD 70 Mn terms to provide solar power to low-income earner families in the East African country. Through the fund, NOTS will be investing in a manufacturing facility for Solar Home System (SHS) for 5 years.
The first of NOTS’ African strides, this project will be accompanied by a microloan credit initiative and marketing infrastructure. The solar firm will also be creating programs that will provide low-income families and rural settlements with electricity, enhancing opportunities in return.
NOTS will be building a “Mutimax” Solar Home System, which will retail for USD 56 per unit, and Rwanda’s government will buy 10,000 units for USD 5.6 Mn.
Per a report from the Rwandan Energy Group, half of the farming households with low incomes have little to no access to power. In view of tackling this deficit, NOTS’ agenda is to produce and sell 900,000 solar systems in the country for the next half a decade.
The firm is experimenting with a consumer sales and finance model in Rwanda. Per the microloan system, it can be accessed by these families to buy the systems, repayment for which occur in 100 fixed, weekly installments.
The entire cost inclusive of the interest on the loan is USD 60, while weekly repayment installments are less than how much a single family spends on less reliable means of light – such as kerosene and mobile phone charging kiosks. The payment options for users will be digital credit checks and automatic payments via mobile phones and mobile money account.
NOTS’ effort is but one of many intending to light up the continent. Africa is a place where over 125 million people do not have access to sustainable power. Earlier, the World Bank committed an International Development Association (IDA) fund worth USD 150 Mn.
The Clean Technology Fund also granted the continent USD 74.7 Mn in contingent recovery. These funds combined would go a long way in establishing off-grid electrification for West African and Sahel region especially.
According to a 2018 report by the Global Off-grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), there has been a drop in the number of Africans without power access, thanks to the deeper penetration of off-grid products.
“NOTS will make electricity more affordable, more available, and much more reliable than kerosene lamps and phone charging kiosks. That’s how we’ll solve Rwanda’s electricity challenge,” said Bart Hartman, NOTS’ chief executive, and impact entrepreneur.
“Subsequently we’ll use this blueprint to tackle Africa’s electricity crisis which – despite the efforts of governments and NGOs – has hardly improved in the last 10 years.”
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