More than 500 million people across sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity and the International Energy Agency expects that number to increase to 700 million by 2030. Since extending the grid to them would cost billions of dollars, micro-scale, off-grid power from solar is often the only viable answer to energy poverty.
In countries like Uganda, where only 20% of the population has an on-grid connection, there’s undeniable potential for solar to leapfrog traditional energy provision models; however, affordability, perceptions of low quality and the absence of last-mile distribution and maintenance networks are curtailing development.
These are the very problems that SolarNow was founded to solve. A Dutch company with its head office in Kampala and core operations in Uganda and Kenya, it sells high-quality solar solutions to fit the needs of rural households and small entrepreneurs — from 10Wp small solar home systems capable of powering a radio, phone and a number of lights to 5kWp systems that can power a small office or machine – plus a range of consumer electronics, including televisions, fridges, flat irons, shavers and water pumps. Typical clients are rural households buying a 50-100Wp system to power 6 lights and a television and charge their phones.
Crucially, SolarNow also provides credit that allows customers to spread payment for all these products over 24 months. Together with a network of 47 branches (800 FTE) in Uganda and Kenya and a price plan that includes full installation and service – backed by a unique five-year warranty – SolarNow has all the pieces in place to take optimal advantage of this unique market opportunity. The company already serves over 16,000 clients in Uganda and Kenya and plans to roll out its operations into other African countries during the coming years.