Azuri is the leading provider of pay-as-you-go solar in sub Saharan Africa with its Indigo technology. Users are able to avoid the normally large up-front costs of solar systems and instead pay for them over small weekly installments. Customers can charge their mobile phone with the systems and have 8 hours of lighting per day for around US$ 1.50 a week.

The DIV grant will fund the creation of a distribution channel and the supply of 10,000 Indigo pay-as-you-go solar systems in Rwanda, where 83% of the population are currently not connected to grid electricity. It is expected that this will then grow under its own finance in the coming years.

Availability of off-grid lighting solutions such as solar PV systems is limited in many countries in sub Saharan Africa and the upfront costs are beyond the means of many poor households. The pay-as-you-go approach, simililar to that of mobile phones, offers an affordable way for users to adopt new clean energy. The project will enable both growth in the Rwandan market and is intended to provide a template that can be replicated in other similar geographies.

Azuri’s CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said: “This is an important project for Azuri, working with GVEP to deploy pay-as-you-go solar in a country with a less established history of solar power. The success of the project will provide important pointers to help pay-as-you-go solar become deployed widely in sub Saharan Africa.”

GVEP has substantial experience and government relationships in Rwanda. Over the next 18 months, GVEP will work with Azuri and a local distributor on the business model in Rwanda. GVEP will also perform detailed research to evaluate Indigo’s social and economic benefits and impacts. The economics of different distribution channels and customer segments will be reviewed to build the case for private financing of large scale roll-outs of off-grid pay-as-you-go solar solutions.

“We will be training small regional retailers and agents on sales techniques and general business skills, and advise the in-country distributor on their marketing strategy and its implementation”, explains David Disch, GVEP’s Country Manager for Rwanda.

In contrast to countries such as Kenya and South Africa, characterized by a well‐established national infrastructure including mobile banking, widespread awareness of solar power, well‐funded distribution channels and somewhat higher per capita incomes, Rwanda represents a more challenging market for this business model and thus, the demonstration effect achieved by the DIV funding will be all the more powerful.

The long term goal of the project is to sell one million Indigo units over 5 years, benefiting 5 million people in Rwanda and elsewhere, leading to reductions of 50% or more in household energy costs, cheaper and more convenient phone charging, improved health and safety and more productive hours in a day for homework, domestic tasks and income generating activities.