Photo courtesy of Azuri Technologies

Finally, off-grid Kenyans can catch up on Game of Thrones!

Azuri Technologies, the UK-based provider of the PayGo Solar home systems that are revolutionizing Africa’s energy economy, has partnered with Zuku to launch the first pay-as-you-go satellite TV package for households in Kenya without access to traditional electricity.

Family watching Azuri TV. (Photo courtesy of Azuri)

Family watching Azuri TV. (Photo courtesy of Azuri)

“Solar power has made huge strides,” said Azuri CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth at the December launch in Mwea, Kenya. “Just a few years ago, a small solar light was a new technology. Today we are providing a TV and service provision that would not look out of place in any major city in the world.”

Before the Azuri/Zuku partnership, Kenya’s rural consumers faced three major obstacles to accessing TV: Lack of power, lack of service coverage and high up front costs for installation. AzuriTV has hurdled each of these obstacles, promising “affordable TV, anytime, anywhere.”

“This is a very exciting opportunity we are giving our customers and viewers to have more choices and enjoy the experience to watch over 40 Zuku TV channels,” said Zuku Satellite TV CEO Jay Chudasama.

Rural house with Azuri TV at night. (Photo courtesy of Azuri)

Rural house with Azuri TV at night. (Photo courtesy of Azuri)

Earlier this year, Planet Experts spoke to Simon Bransfield-Garth about breaking the cycle of poverty that plagues rural inhabitants around the world. “You’re spending so much on your day-to-day existence that you can’t afford to buy the things that allow you to not spend so much on your day-to-day existence,” the CEO explained.

With the steadily falling cost of solar technology, Bransfield-Garth saw major potential for rural Africa. Where candles and kerosene lamps are the norm, Africans actually pay a much higher cost for their illumination than Americans. Whereas Americans pay an average of fifteen cents per kilowatt hour, a kerosene lamp gobbles up eight dollars per kilowatt hour. To charge their mobile phones (which are becoming ubiquitous in the developing world), a rural Kenyan would have to spend roughly $100 per kilowatt hour.

To free this emerging market from its “poverty trap,” Azuri created a pay-as-you-go model for its solar home system. Using their mobile phones, customers pay for their solar power as they use it rather than paying for it all up front. The system took off and has already spurred competition in the industry, though Azuri still has the widest reach of any pay-as-you-go solar company in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Zuku CEO Jay Chudasama (L) with Senator Lenny Kivuti of Embu County (C) and CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth (R). (Photo courtesy of Azuri)

Zuku CEO Jay Chudasama (L) with Senator Lenny Kivuti of Embu County (C) and CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth (R). (Photo courtesy of Azuri)

Now Azuri is helping its customers purchase a window to the world with a satellite package that offers local, international and Zuku-branded channels (including Zuku Sports, Zuku Swahili and Zuku Kids). As with PayGo Solar, the Zuku package will be pay-as-you-go via mobile money, which will allow customers to use the system as much as they want for the credit period. After two years of payments, customers will own the equipment and pay only for the satellite service.

The off-grid solar market is in the midst of a serious boom, already growing beyond the simple necessities of lighting and phone charging. Bloomberg Report 2016 forecasts that 15 million households will have solar-powered television by 2020.

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