Azuri to expand pay-as-you-go model to Tanzania

The growth of offgrid solar to replace kerosene lighting and provide mobile phone charging in parts of Africa continues, with the latest deal seeing Azure Technologies roll out its service in Tanzania. Azuri reports that Tanzania is an ideal market for its solution, with 14% of the country electrified, with that number falling to 3% in rural communities.

The deal will see Azuri partner with mobile phone network and mobile payment provider Tigo Pesa to deliver the service. Mobile retailer Lotus Africa will provide the point-of-sale and also deliver and service the Azuri product. Mobile banking is very common in Africa and is used for a wide range of services.

Azuri Technologies is a spin off from Cambridge University and uses an organic PV (OPV) technology developed in-house. Its kits are ideal for powering solar LED lighting and changing small devices like mobile phones or radios. The kits can vary in scale providing increased services for larger or more affluent households. Azuri was formerly known as Eight19.

The package includes a mobile phone and SIM card, to allow for pay-as-you-go payments for offgrid households. This allows consumers to purchase small amounts of electricity, weeks or even days in advance, which is generated by the Azuri PV solution. It also allows from the provider to “switch” the provision of power off in the event of no payment.

“This initiative further portrays Tigo as an innovation leader and ideally positions the company to bring digital services to the market,” said Tigo General Manager Cecile Tiano. “With daily access to energy, our customers can benefit from 24/7 connectivity, and with it, the advantage of a mobile payment service whenever they need it.”

Pay-as-you-go PV systems such as the Azuri / Tigo offering can replace expensive and potentially dangerous kerosene lighting in remote households. It can provide mobile phone charging, meaning that householders will no longer have to travel to towns or community centers to charge their mobiles.

Azuri and Tigo will initially roll out the service in the lake region of Northern Tanzania.

Rival pay-as-you-go solar provider M-KOPA was recently awarded a Zayed Future Energy Prize in Abu Dhabi, as a part of World Future Energy Week. It provides its service in eastern Africa. A feature interview with M-KOPA cofounder Jesse Moore features in the March edition of pv magazine.