#Africa M-KOPA Solar launches solar-powered digital TVs


Kenyan pay-as-you-go solar provider M-KOPA Solar has launched its first solar-powered digital flat-screen TV, making the device available through M-PESA mobile money payment plans in a bid to make TV ownership more accessible.

Citing statistics from the Kenya Audience Research Foundation 2015, M-KOPA said the data reveals only 31 per cent of Kenya’s adult population has access to TV on a daily basis; the remaining 69 per cent lacking access to power or cannot afford a TV set.

The new M-KOPA TV offering allows M-KOPA customers who have finished paying off their KES50 (US$0.50) solar home installments to upgrade to the “M-KOPA + TV” package.  After completing the two year payment plan, customers will own outright their solar TV set as well as their home power system.

“Owning a TV is life-changing for our off-grid customers. Many of them have traditionally had to pay to watch in a café or bar, or missed out on news and current events because they could not afford to be connected to information. We are now going beyond the grid to offer TV to homes all over Kenya. It’s great for the family to be able to watch together in the comfort and safety of their home,” says Jesse Moore, chief executive officer (CEO) at M-KOPA.

The new M-KOPA 400 package – a 20W solar home system –  is now also available in selected service centres. The package includes a 20W PV panel, a 16 inch digital TV, two lights, a torch, a phone charger, and a radio; and is available for a deposit plus a year of daily payments of KES125 (US$1.2).

M-KOPA has partnered with mobile operator Safaricom since 2010 on technology development and distribution in Kenya. M-KOPA’s solar home systems, with TV, will be available in Safaricom retail outlets from mid-2016.

“M-PESA and Safaricom are helping make digital TV affordable and accessible for the first time for millions of people. I think M-KOPA’s innovation signals a fundamental change for TV audiences in Kenya. We are creating the genesis of a new economy based on clean energy that promises to include groups who have been previously marginalised,” says Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom.

The solar TVs are the latest in a line of technology and home development products rolled out by M-KOPA in addition to its power system.  In January Disrupt Africa reported M-KOPA had so far sold 40,000 home-improvement and technology products, including lights, energy-efficient cooking stoves, smartphones and water tanks.  The product range is only available for households who have successfully completed the payment plan on their solar home systems.

M-KOPA Solar raised a total of US$31.45 million in funding last year – making it one of the best-funded startups in Africa according to Disrupt Africa’s African Tech Startups Funding Report 2015.


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