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Mastercard, M-KOPA Solar set to light up Africa

Mastercard, M-KOPA Solar set to light up Africa

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Stanley Opara

Mastercard and M-KOPA have announced a partnership that will provide Africans without electricity a simple way to light up their homes and businesses.

The partnership was sealed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, a joint statement by both firms indicated.

M-KOPA, which already provides affordable, safe and clean energy to three million people in East Africa, said it would use Mastercard’s Quick Response payment technology in Uganda to extend the reach of its pioneering pay-as-you-go solar programme.

Following a successful pilot in Uganda, Mastercard and M-KOPA plan to extend the programme across East Africa. Mastercard said it would also work with mobile network operators to extend the model to other utilities such as water and gas in developing markets across the world.

This digital service innovation is expected to open up new business opportunities for telecommunication companies and mobile network operators and evolve their business model beyond providing airtime and data services.

Masterpass QR, an open and interoperable technology, hopes to create a new payment channel for M-KOPA’s pay-as-you-go customers outside of Kenya.

Mobile network operators and banks using Masterpass QR will help M-KOPA to grow across Africa without requiring additional technology investments, according to the statement.

Masterpass QR is currently available in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

“We may take for granted our ability to produce light with the simple flick of a switch. But for many around the world, simple things like having electricity can be life-changing,” said the Senior Vice-President, Commerce for Every Device at Mastercard, Kiki Del Valle.

He added, “By using our digital payment capabilities, we want to make it easy for people to access reliable and regular sources of energy and become more economically resilient – earn a livelihood by working from home, keep shops and businesses open for longer and study after dark.”

An estimated 16 per cent of the world’s population – 1.2 billion people – have little or no access to electricity. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 625 million people lack access to electricity, relying on bio and fossil fuels such as wood, charcoal and kerosene.

The statement said, “Solar is an independent way for people to power homes and businesses but requires a large, one-time investment. With pay-as-you-go financing, M-KOPA customers purchase a solar home system on credit and make small daily payments using mobile money for less than what they previously spent on hazardous, kerosene lamps.

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