NOTS Solar Lamps to invest US$70mn in Rwanda

NOTSNOTS Solar Lamps and the government of Rwanda have signed a deal to accelerate the provision of electricity to the lowest income families in the country

Under the deal, NOTS will invest USD70mn over five years in a manufacturing facility for solar homes systems (SHS), the first in Africa, a microloan credit scheme and marketing infrastructure and programmes.

SHS is recognised by the United Nations and World Bank as an essential technology in the effort to provide rural families with electricity, ending energy poverty and enhancing life opportunities.

The factory will build the ‘Mutimax’ SHS to a price point of US$56, half that of current SHS, affordable for the lowest income families. In return, the government of Rwanda will purchase 100, 000 units valued at USD5.6mn.

Bart Hartman, chief executive and impact entrepreneur at NOTS, said, “Subsequently, we’ll use this blueprint to tackle Africa’s electricity crisis which - despite the efforts of governments and NGOs - has hardly improved in the last 10 years.”

The Rwandan Energy Group reports that half of all households - mostly farming families on low incomes - have no access to electricity. NOTS plans to make and sell 900, 000 SHS in Rwanda over the next four years, providing electricity to approximately 4.2mn people. From 2022, the factory will manufacture at least one million additional units per annum for export to the rest of Africa.

NOTS is trialling a unique consumer sales and finance model in Rwanda. Families can use a microloan to buy the SHS outright, making 100 equal, weekly payments. The total price including loan interest is US$60. Weekly repayments cost less than a typical family would currently spend on kerosene lighting and mobile phone charging kiosks. The model uses digital credit checks and automatic payments through mobile phones and mobile money accounts - both heavily used in Sub Saharan Africa. NOTS has partnered with Airtel Money Rwanda for the trial in three Rwandan districts.

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