Eight19 brings pay-as-you-go solar to South Sudan

University of Cambridge spin-out Eight19 is bringing its pay-as-you-go personal solar electricity system to communities in the world’s youngest country.

The IndiGo system, which was launched in Kenya in September 2011, is now being deployed to rural off-grid communities in South Sudan.

Eight19 has partnered with WorldVenture, an international charitable organisation, to bring the systems to rural villages in the Nimule region of South Sudan. Eight19 expects to deploy 1,000 units to Nimule in the first half of 2012.

IndiGo has the potential to transform the energy market by enabling local energy production meaning that many people can access power without having to wait for the grid. Eight19 has started a revolution in energy provision.

Thomas Bell

The IndiGo units, which consist of a battery, a solar panel, lights and a phone charging device, will bring clean, affordable and renewable power to off-grid communities in South Sudan, which is the fourth African country in which Eight19 has deployed IndiGo since its launch last September.

This country has recently emerged from civil war as an independent nation and by bringing power to those living off-grid, the WorldVenture/Eight19 initiative aims to stimulate social and economic development and provide the energy to power lighting, Internet connections and electronic devices.

“I used to have to go to a market three kilometres away to buy batteries for my family’s battery-powered lanterns and had to charge our mobile phones at charging stations in town twice a week,” said Nyungura James Ode, a rural farmer in Nimule. “Now with I save about half of the money I would spend on batteries and kerosene and can spend more time at home now that I don’t have to walk to the village and wait for phones to charge. Also, I do not have to worry about the light running out of power when tending to my baby at night.”

1.6Bn people, over one fifth of the world’s population, lack access to electricity via a grid and pay high prices for kerosene to serve basic needs such as lighting. By combining solar and mobile phone technology, Eight19 is bringing electricity directly to people’s homes thereby by passing the need for a grid connection. By offering solar power as a service, without high purchase costs, these users can now access clean electricity for less than their current spend on kerosene.

“There is a pressing need for off-grid power in South Sudan, where sometimes the poorest even burn grass despite the smoke health hazard and fire risk, they just are so desperate for an affordable way to have light at night,” said Thomas Bell, South Sudan Director of Projects at WorldVenture. “Eight19’s pay-as-you-go solar is a grass root solution, which is particularly important in South Sudan, where there is a complete lack of infrastructure. IndiGo has the potential to transform the energy market by enabling local energy production meaning that many people can access power without having to wait for the grid. Eight19 has started a revolution in energy provision.”

Simon Bransfield Garth, CEO of Eight19 said “The positive response and widespread interest in IndiGo since we launched it in Kenya six months ago has been fantastic and is fuelling our expansion. Working with local delivery partners, such as WorldVenture in South Sudan, ensures that IndiGo reaches those communities quickly and easily and so bringing immediate benefits. We are working hard to deploy our units fast enough to keep up with the demand to further stimulate economic development in the world’s youngest country.”

Photo credit: South Sudan by Amy the Nurse via Flickr

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