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U.S Solar Startup Is Expanding Its Partnership With MTN To Give Zambians Access To Electricity

U.S. solar startup Fenix International is expanding its partnership with Africa’s largest telecommunications provider MTN in order to provide electricity to Africans who do not have access to an electricity grid.

The San Francisco startup brings power to under-served areas thanks to the provision of their solar-power systems, and their extended partnership with MTN Group in Zambia will mean electricity access for an additional million new users in the country over the next three-year period, according to TechCentral.

As an early investor in Fenix’s efforts on the continent, MTN not only benefits from being involved in providing power for Zambians, but the process involves payment via their mobile app, allowing customers to familiarize themselves with the technology.

Potential customers in Zambia will use MTN’s mobile-money app to pay as little as $0.20 per day in a pay-to-own scheme that will see them purchase their own solar-panel and battery system that is capable of lighting up homes and charging mobile phones, according to MyBroadband.

Solar startup and telecoms company lighting up Zambia

Around 625 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, according to World Bank data.

Approximately 15 million Zambians, which constitute 80 percent of the population, live without access to the country’s unreliable power grid, and are forced to use kerosene lamps, candles and wood fires in their homes.

Providing a million of those with solar options over the coming three years will put a dent in that statistic.

Lyndsay Handler, chief executive officer of Fenix International, commented on the use of solar applications, especially in rural areas.

“Over 90 percent of rural Zambians lack access to electricity and have no options other than dangerous candles and kerosene lanterns to light their homes. This is the harsh reality of the situation which we are working to change,” said Handler, according to ITNewsAfrica.

“Our solar home systems not only provide light and energy, but our unique Fenix credit score makes upgrades and additional life-changing products accessible to committed customers as their needs and incomes grow. Ten years from now, we hope to eliminate the use of candles and be an important part of our customers’ lives across Zambia,” Handler added.

The Swedish Embassy in Zambia has committed to providing $3 million to Fenix International in Zambia between now and 2020, with USAID contributing an additional $750,000 to the company, Africanbusinessreview reports.

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