Kenya-made solar panels boost firm’s EA presence

Monday January 22 2018

M-Kopa solar kit. In October last year, M-Kopa

M-Kopa solar kit. In October last year, M-Kopa secured $80 million to finance solar energy in at least one million homes in Kenya and Uganda by 2020. FILE PHOTO | NATION 

By VICTOR KIPROP
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Kenya's M-Kopa hopes to install at least 500,000 locally-made solar panels over the next two years, after it signed a supply deal with Solinc, manufacturer of solar electricity products.

M-Kopa which previously imported its smaller 8W panels begin will now source all its photovoltaic panels in Kenya as it looks to grow its off-grid capacity from the current 1.85MW to about 6.6MW, by 2020.

M-Kopa chairman Mugo Kibati, says the firm has already installed 100,000 locally-sourced panels and that contract was part of efforts to boost local manufacturing and increase access to cleaner, renewable energy.

In October last year, M-Kopa, which has already connected over 500,000 homes to solar power across the region, secured $80 million to finance solar energy in at least one million homes in Kenya and Uganda by 2020.

Rent-to-own model

The expansion plans by the pay-as-you-go firm reflect the increased interest in the solar kits market in East Africa that has recently attracted multinationals like Indian firm Orb Energy and Germany-based Mobisol.

Mobisol which has operations in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda has already installed 10 MW of solar energy and connected more than 500,000 people in East Africa through its rent-to-own solar systems distribution model.

Husk Power Systems which operates in Tanzania and India has announced a $20 million investment to install over 300 mini-grids in the two countries over the next four years.

A week ago, the Opec Fund for International Development approved a $1 million grant for the Energy 4 Impact project to develop the small-scale solar irrigation market in Rwanda, to support 13,000 farmers over five years.

In 2017, the World Bank advanced $150 million to the Kenyan government for the off-grid Solar Access Project that is expected to serve an estimated 277,000 households across 14 counties.