Wednesday, 19 June 2013, 11:30 a.m., Room A/B
In many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, only a small proportion of the population has access to the national electricity grid. State-owned utility companies lack the production capacity and grid infrastructure needed to forge ahead with large-scale expansion of the power grid. "Green economy" with off-grid solar power systems that provide a sustainable, decentralized energy supply, represents a useful solution. It not only improves living conditions but at the same time fosters economic development in rural areas. Relatively high initial investment costs, however, are currently one of the most important obstacles to the distribution of photovoltaic systems. It is therefore important to bring affordable systems, combined with flexible payment methods, to the market.
What can private investors do to support the distribution of affordable solar systems? What role can development finance institutions play in this context – for instance by promoting development and distribution of such systems? How can these systems be made affordable for the local population? What can be done to ensure that they are properly installed and maintained? Are such investments profitable for customers and companies in the long-term? And how does an improved energy supply affect the economic strength of rural areas?
This workshop will review these questions by looking at the German company Mobisol GmbH as an example. In Tanzania and Kenya, Mobisol develops and distributes solar home systems in combination with an innovative payment system. The solar home system is supplied together with a mobile phone modem. Customers pay their monthly fees via SMS through a mobile payment system. The low monthly rates are based on the households' current energy costs. Surveys conducted during the pilot phase indicate that the power generated by the system enabled around 30% of Mobisol's customers to become economically active.
The role of the borrower will be outlined from the point of view of the development finance institution that provided the project with funds through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development's develoPPP.de program. A company representative will present the project, explaining for example how the system is controlled through an online database from Germany. Finally, media response to the project will be described and discussed.
Journalist, Brussels/Cologne, Belgium/Germany
General Manager, Mobisol GmbH, Berlin, Germany
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