I have a dream that one day, Nigeria will have so much renewable energy, we’d have to pay people to use electricity like a certain European country. Shalla to Martin Luther King Jr. I know I’m not alone because a Lagos-based renewable energy company named Arnergy has just announced a pay-as-you-go service for users in communities without stable power supply (which is pretty much all the communities in Nigeria).
The service is called Arnergy SRS, Solar Rental System, and it lets consumers install affordable solar panels and pay on a daily or monthly basis for only the power they consume.
First, users have to purchase solar panel kits that are easily mountable and “take about the same effort as unboxing a new TV set.” After setting them up, customers can purchase units by either using Arnergy’s app, Rana, or through Arnergy “Solar Angels” which is what they are calling their distribution agents.
Arnergy is setting up centres for these “Solar Angels” around Nigeria because many of these rural communities have neither the internet infrastructure, nor can they afford the smartphones with which to run the Rana app. They will also serve as technical support personnel and help install and maintain the panels.
SRS comes in three plans that vary in capacity and price. They are Arnergy 60, Arnergy 300 and Arnergy 500. Obviously, Arnergy 60 is for users whose energy needs don’t exceed LED bulbs for three average-sized rooms, a radio, TV, fan and maybe charge a phone. At the other end of the spectrum, Arnergy 500 is for much heavier use and is suited for small businesses. It can power TVs, fans, light bulbs for five rooms, and office equipment like computers and printers, and Arnergy 300 is somewhere in between those two.
Arnergy SRS is designed for communities in rural areas and so, their payments structure is flexible. According to their press release, “The company believes that by removing financial and institutional barriers to obtaining solar energy through flexible payment solutions, target customers can enjoy Arnergy’s services conveniently.”
Going off the national grid is something Nigerians are beginning to consider, what with (very) unstable power supply and petrol prices going way up so running your generator forever is not a cost-effective option. In the same vein, we’ve seen a few people on Radar who’ve completely taken their houses off the national power supply grid.
By the way, erratic power supply isn’t a Nigerian problem. Pay-as-you-go solar power is proving itself a palliative in countries across Africa. A good example is Tanzania’s Off-Grid Electric which is solving the same problem Arnergy is trying to.
Last year, Arnergy secured funding from Nigeria’s Bank of Industry to provide rural communities with stable and affordable electricity and from where I’m sitting, it looks like they’re on the right track. We won’t know for sure until this episode reaches its denouement.
If affordable, pay-as-you-go solar energy sounds like something you’d love to try out, you can sign up and get your solar kit on the Arnergy site.