1.3 billion people don’t have access to electricity and rely on alternatives such as burning kerosene for lighting. In South Sudan, women can spend up to 3 hours each day collecting grass to burn for lighting.
“With kerosene I couldn’t read comfortably, always straining. But it was the children who suffered most; we used to run out of kerosene four or five times a month, and with no light they couldn’t complete their studies. Now we have clean permanent light, we are saving money, and I am so happy for me and my family,” Samuel, first Indigo customer
There are also 600 million mobile phone subscribers worldwide who lack access to electricity and spend $15-35 a year on phone charging . In sub-Saharan Africa, mobile phone penetration is almost ubiquitous. The World Bank predicts over a billion people will still be off-grid in 2030 because the increase in electrification is unable to keep up with population growth.
Solar power is an obvious alternative to kerosene, candles or disposable batteries which, light-for-light, cost over 100x the price of the equivalent energy in the West and can represent as much as 30% of the net income of poor households. Conventional solar lighting products require the customer to pay a high initial purchase cost. A rural farmer on $3 per day struggles to afford a $70 solar power system, which costs the equivalent of a used car in developed countries.
Indigo is an example of distributed power which in rural communities is rapidly replacing the need for a conventional wired grid. Just as mobile phones removed the need for landlines, so affordable off-grid power can be more effective than waiting for the grid to reach rural communities. Azuri’s new energy architecture vision of the “un-grid” is one where developing countries can effectively leap-frog the grid and benefit now from the communications revolution of the developed world.
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