Traditional off-grid commercial models have focussed on either selling the electricity back to the grid or directly to the end consumers, which often presents bureaucratic challenges and struggles to scale due to levels of disposable income.
Ubuntu Power provides solar power and unrestricted internet to power and connect hundreds of people in off-grid communities in Kenya. The innovation lies in combining both the power and internet provision together into one central system and using the revenue from the community’s mobile usage and mast rental to fund the electricity generation and community services. By integrating a biogas system the project hopes to create a circular economy with zero-waste energy generation. It will also be able to power a centralised agricultural centre, boosting local productivity and providing agricultural waste to feed the digester, as well as much-needed fertiliser.
TRANSFORM supported Ubuntu Power to launch its first community solar hub in Kenya by providing funding and supporting a full analysis of the pilot. The initiative also provided access to TRANSFORM partners’ expertise in the supply chain, a distribution network and regional knowledge, allowing for quicker scale. Staff were hired from the community to manage the system and to provide customer service and engineering support. A reduction in electricity pricing was achieved and daily working hours increased. All research respondents said they felt safer in the village after dark due to lighting.
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