Without having too much of a rant I will say this – I cannot wrap my head around the fact that we do not harness more solar energy in this country, I just can’t. Especially living in sunny South Africa, watching building after building being built, straining our already over-worked and not-coping electricity grid, buildings with massive glassy facades, I have to ask – What if we covered even half the glass with electricity generating solar film?
I know that solar technology is still very pricey and takes a long time to cover its cost, but I am a huge fan of the movement towards solar power- It. Just. Makes. Sense. That is why this article resonated with me. Having started off as a marketing project, Azuri Technologies has distributed 7,000 Indigo solar systems across sub-Saharan Africa and hopes to have 150,000 systems in place by the end of this year (2014). Even more impressive to me is that this is an entirely for-profit business model, operating in rural Sub-saharan Africa.
How do they do it? Low cost and pay-as-you-go. The Problem: when living on $3 a day a $50 solar panel is inaccessible. Azuri’s solution: a pay-as-you-go model.
Here is how it works: Customers buy scratch cards costing $1 to $1.50 a week, depending on location, from local resellers. Then, they text Azuri the codes on the cards to activate the system, which comes with a solar panel and battery pack, two overhead lights, and a mobile-phone charger. It can be paid off after 18 months of steady payments. After that, customers can pay a service fee of 50 cents a week or upgrade to a system that generates enough energy to power four lights, a phone, and a radio for $2 a week.
Simon Bransfield-Garth, the visionary behind Azuri Technologies, standing in a dark village at night, the only light coming from the one test house running Azuri’s solar panel says: “That’s when I realized, OK. This makes a difference.”