February 19, 2014

Pay for Solar Via Mobile Money

Rural communities can now conveniently acquire efficient high voltage solar systems through installments, thanks to an initiative by the Energy and Mineral Developments. James Baanabe Isingoma, the Acting Commissioner in the Energy Resources Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development says the Ministry has teamed up with M-Copper, a Kenyan firm to roll out the system in Uganda.

He says under the system, people in rural areas will acquire solar systems from the company and pay in installments until they complete the full amount.

Isingoma praised the system for complementing the rural electrification program and asked communities to embrace it since the national power grid is overwhelmed by the high demand. He explains that rural communities in Western Uganda have already welcomed the system. According to Isingoma, government has provided a suitable framework for the various solar technologies to enter the country and made them tax exempt to entice private investors into the market.

Mobisol Prepaid Energy is one such company interested in the Ugandan market. The German company is already working in neighboring Rwanda and Kenya connecting households on efficient solar panels that are capable of generating extra income as well. Klaus Maier, the Project Coordinator of Mobisol says the payment for solar system through Mobile Money is the single new innovation that societies need to quickly embrace to alleviate health complications associated with the use of kerosene and diesel for lighting rural Africa.

The other innovation is for communities to come together under cooperatives, buy power from the main grid and sell to other communities. Isingoma says Uganda already has two power cooperatives in northern Uganda and Bundibugyo district. He explains how it works to Uganda Radio Network.

Under the Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan, the country has been divided into different zones.  Isingoma says business communities interested in controlling the supply of electricity to some of the zones where Umeme is not active will compete for concessions when lines are extended to such areas.

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