Mobisol Prepaid Energy Brings the World Cup to Rural Rwanda
By Guest Blogger
Written by Mathias Püschel, Mobisol
This World Cup, Rural Rwandans like Josephine Mukamurenzi are watching matches on TVs powered by Mobisol’s mobile-enabled home solar system. Mobisol is a MECS Innovation Fund Grantee and the company recently shared Josephine’s story with the MECS Africa Working Group participants.
Josephine and her husband Alex are self-made entrepreneurs. He works as a mason during the day and she runs their shop that sells basic household goods, beverages and charges phones. Before purchasing the Mobisol system, Alex used a car battery for charging phones which he had to recharge every two to three days in Nyamata- about 5 km away. In addition to the 400 RWF (0.58 USD) for transport, Alex had to pay 800 RWF (1.17 USD) per charge at the local recharging station. Due to the lack of a charge controller on the battery, which prevents deep-discharge and overloading, the battery had to be replaced every year at a price of 75,000 RWF (110 USD) – a high financial and environmental cost.
In February 2014, Alex heard about solar home systems from Mobisol staff in Nyamata and made his down payment for the 120W solar business system. Alex no longer faces the cost and hassle of charging a car battery and has a dramatically new business offering: Customers can come watch the world cup match while the mobiCharger can charge up to 10 of their phones or lanterns at a time (the business kit comes with 20 lanterns). Customers pay 100 RWF (0.15 USD) to watch the match, 100 RWF to charge their phone and 100 RWF for each lantern charge on top of a 1,000 RWF (1.47 USD) monthly rental agreement. The store’s TV and additional lights have of course also drawn more customers – particularly during evening hours- to purchase goods and beverages.
With the mobiCharger Alex can charge up to 10 devices at once
Mobisol has been awarded a MECS innovation fund grant to grow their business from Tanzania to Rwanda, and focus on the opportunities for solar entrepreneurs.The Mobisol solar home system leverages mobile payments to enable customers to “pay-as-you-go” for the system and appliances until customers eventually own them. The solar system’s embedded SIM allows for automatic payment transfer to the unit- and shut down when no payment is made, as well remote monitoring of system performance. Through the grant to Mobisol, MECS will be gathering important evidence on how such business models can grow mobile money deployments and increase phone charging and airtime use, as well as revenue and quality of life improvements for solar entrepreneurs.
Click here to learn more about Mobisol‘s business in Tanzania and Rwanda.