Innovation That Matters

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Solar kits and lanterns for unelectrified communities

Agriculture & Energy

A startup is working to bring electricity and other services to remote African areas

Spotted: According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), around 770 million people live without electricity. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, only around 50 per cent of people have access to grid electricity, with this number dropping even lower in rural areas. This lack of access affects living standards, quality of education, and economic opportunity, among other things. Qotto – a solar kits provider – is working to change this. 

Qotto, which operates in Burkina Faso and Benin, designs and distributes standalone solar kits and lanterns to some of the least electrified regions of Africa. It supplies a pay-to-own model that makes the kits affordable for more people. The basic kit includes a solar panel, battery, 12-volt sockets, four LED lamps, and one USB socket. Qotto also provides centralised control of the solar systems and paperless payment by mobile phone. 

The system can be used to provide lighting, phone charging, and TV. Users can also generate additional income by, for example, recharging their neighbours’ mobile phones. And to make the system easy to adopt, Qotto provides all delivery and installation.

Qotto is expanding to the Ivory Coast next month and has plans to take its systems to East Africa in future. The company is also developing other services, including micro-insurance, micro-credit, and micro-savings products, as well as internet hotspots.

Qotto is not the first to realise that affordable electricity for remote communities is vital to lift many out of poverty. Some other innovations Springwise has spotted that are delivering power to remote areas include solar-powered bikes and trikes, and a solar-powered refrigerator for off-grid communities. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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