Lighting-up Ebola-hit homes in Sierra Leone

//Lighting-up Ebola-hit homes in Sierra Leone

Radio phone-in enables villagers to keep powered-up

Azuri and its local partner in Sierra Leone Teleficient Communication have today launched a special radio campaign to enable their PayGo solar customers in regions affected by the Ebola virus to keep their households powered.

In recent weeks, some customers have been isolated in their homes due to the Ebola virus and have been unable to reach their local scratchcard agent to keep their solar home system in credit, facing a return to darkness after sunset once again. However, Azuri’s PayGo service can continue to operate via mobile contact by providing customers with a top-up code directly to their mobile phone, overcoming the need for the customer to purchase a scratch card.

In order to maintain continuous service to its customers, Azuri has leveraged the power of local radio to encourage Azuri customers to phone-in and receive back via SMS a free top-up code for 28 days of credit. The message is being aired regularly on the national station Capital Radio Sierra Leone, as well as in local dialects in radio stations in Kono, Tombo and Kenema.

In the space of 3 hours, 60 customers had been provided with a month’s worth of free credit and no longer had the added fear of no light after sunset. One Azuri customer said today: “This 28-day free promotion is helping me a lot in this difficult time. Ebola makes me afraid to go out to get top-up, and the light makes my family feel safer at night.”

The first confirmed cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone were reported in the Kailahun district in May. It has since spread to Kenema district, which is now the worst-hit area in the country. The United Nations World Food Programme is scaling up its operations to provide food to around 1 million people living in restricted access areas in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Sierra Leone is today one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, yet less than 10% of the 6 million strong population has access to electricity, relying instead on fossil fuels for lighting and needing to use expensive commercial services to charge mobile phones. Azuri’s PayGo solar power solution delivers lighting for 9 hours per night and charging for mobile phones, all for a cost that is lower than the kerosene and phone charging fees it eliminates.

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