Bypassing The Grid; Empowering Communities With Next Generation Solar

18th January 2012

Eight 19
Bypassing The Grid; Empowering Communities With Next Generation Solar
Eight19 provides a sustainable grass root solution to electrification of rural off-grid communities

Abu Dhabi, UAE: Speaking at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi this week, and coinciding with the launch of the UN’s 2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All initiative, CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth of Eight19, will explain how his company’s pay-as-you go solar system, will accelerate access to electricity for those 1.6 billion people that currently lack access to the grid.

Eight19’s IndiGo pay-as-you-go solar system for off-grid rural communities, first launched in September 2011 in Kenya, includes high quality solar lighting and in-home phone charging, which users pay for on a weekly basis using scratchcards costing around US $1 per week, similar to pay-asyou-go mobile phones. Furthermore, users will be able to upgrade their IndiGo system in due course to larger systems, allowing customers to power additional appliances such as radios, TVs and fridges over time. So far the basic 2.5W system has been deployed in homes in Kenya, Malawi and Zambia and it is anticipated that 4,000 more will be installed in the first quarter of 2012.

Bransfield-Garth will go on to explain how, in conjunction with the charity SolarAid, they are launching a new revolving KickStart Fund that provides working capital to accelerate the roll-out of IndiGo’s pay-as-you-go solar technologies. The revenues from the scratchcards recover the cost of the units, which are ploughed back into KickStart to allow additional units to be deployed to new and existing users. In this way, consecutive KickStart funds are spun out from the original investment, ensuring the money works harder to provide benefits to a large number of users over time.

The initial reserve of the KickStart funds will be provided by supporters in the form of either charitable donations or defined-term, interest-free loans. The programme has been primed with a US$200,000 pool from Eight19 and Solar Aid; it is envisaged that a combination of funding from NGOs, companies and individuals will allow the fund to grow, escalating the expansion of solar power in Africa.

Simon Bransfield-Garth will say, “The IndiGo system connects people to clean, renewable and affordable energy allowing them to escalate their energy supply over time. It will transform the lives of those living off-grid so that communities will be able to dispose of their kerosene lamps and replace them with electric lights. Further, it will make it easier to charge their mobile phones and will progressively expand their solutions to powering useful appliances including radios, televisions and sewing machines.

He adds: “Providing access to electricity in this way enables communities to bypass the need for the grid and provides enormous social and economic benefits to the users. In the UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for all, Eight19 can offer a grass-roots electrification system that will empower rural people without the need for a lengthy and expensive grid expansion process.”

For a PDF of this press release, click here.

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