Innovating energy to serve the needs of all



This article was originally published on Business Call to Action and is republished with permission.

Berlin, 8 August 2017 – Germany-based SOLARKIOSK has joined Business Call to Action (BCtA) by pledging to establish 940 solar-powered retail businesses, called E-HUBBs, across Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, providing sustainable energy products and consumer goods to local communities and creating at least 2,000 new jobs within the inclusive E-HUBB network.

 

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Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than USD 8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

 

Globally, 1.5 billion low-income people live in communities that are not connected to the electricity grid. The average off-grid household spends USD 150 each year on meeting its energy needs. Energy sources utilized by off-grid families such as kerosene, diesel generators and car batteries are expensive, polluting and can even be poisonous. Cooking on charcoal or wood stoves contributes to drastic deforestation. Diesel-powered refrigerators are expensive to run and often fail due to inconsistent diesel supply.

 

In addition, these off-grid energy sources are much more expensive than conventional grid-based energy, further depleting the precious resources of low-income households. The annual worldwide off-grid expenditure for lighting has been estimated at USD 27 billion.

 

With its growing network of E-HUBBs, SOLARKIOSK has stepped in to capture this market opportunity by providing affordable, clean and safe solar products, as well as energy for productive use to off-grid communities in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya. E-HUBBs can be equipped with solar-powered refrigerators, multiple phone-charging USBs, computers, printers, satellite connectivity and further applicatons, and are stocked with a full range of solar products and sustainable consumer goods.

 

While offering goods and services based on solar energy, SOLARKIOSK’s E-HUBBs also provide much-needed employment to the E-HUBB operators. Currently, more than 70 percent of these operators are local women, who are trained to independently manage the daily operations of the E-HUBBs.

 

“We’ve become the largest and fastest growing pan-African solar retailer by meeting the expressed needs of rural underserved communities”, explained SOLARKIOSK CEO Andreas Spiess. “Our tailored products can be obtained with cash or mobile money – including a pay-as-you-go option that enables people to access solar energy on demand. By listening to the needs of communities, we are expanding our solar offerings and increasing our company’s reach.”  


Each modular E-HUBB is equipped with enough capacity to supply essential community energy needs, and flexible enough to grow with demand. The E-HUBBS can also be dismantled and moved to another location if necessary. E-HUBBs even have the potential to power other business and thus create a B2B mini-grid or take on such functions as a medical centre, an internet café or a rural bank, making them the centre of community energy infrastructure.

 

“With its state-of-the-art design and inclusive operating model, SOLARKIOSK is bringing green and solar products and services to Africa’s underserved communities”, stated BCtA Programme Manager Paula Pelaez. “By delivering energy and labour-saving technologies to the last mile , the company is working towards the Sustainable Development Goals of access to sustainable energy for all, gender equality and more.”

 

It has been estimated that the solar products sold through E-HUBBs can keep up to 600 kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year while its clean cooking stoves can save 60 ha of forests per year. To increase these green impacts while supplying even more communities with clean energy and employment, SOLARKIOSK plans to expand from 200 E-HUBBs to 940 across sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.
 

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