Power: Firms Partner to Ease Payment in Unbanked Communities

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By Peter Uzoho

As part of efforts to address challenges hindering energy access to

households in unbanked and underserved communities in Nigeria, five leading solar home system companies have successfully integrated into Swifta, a technology company offering a wide range of IT services and products through its strong cash collection agent

networks.

The companies include Azuri Technologies, A Solar, Oolu Solar, Smarter Grid International (SGI) and Sosai Renewable Energy Company.

The integration and partnership followed a rigorous User Acceptance

Test (UAT) initiated and funded by the Nigerian Off-grid Market

Accessibility Programme (NoMAP), a market building programme jointly

supported by the Shell Foundation and the USAID. It was aimed at easing

subscription collection from unbanked Pay As You Go (PAYGO) customers

of the companies in remote communities.

Announcing the integration at a press conference in Lagos, the Programme

Manager, NoMAP, Mr. Adedotun Eyinade, explained that the system was designed in such a way that allows a PAYGO customer of any of the five solar companies with a subscription plan to renew the subscription through Swifta’s mobile or static agents, leveraging on the company’s

proprietary Onmibranch platform.

Eyinade said: “Customers who are unbanked and living off the grid

often face the arduous task of not being able to access Pay As You Go

solar since there are limited options to pay for their monthly

subscriptions.

“Thanks to the integration into Swifta agent’s network. PAYGO customers can now seamlessly pay for their monthly subscription

through cash collection agents. NoMAP views the pilot as a workaround to address the challenges associated with Nigeria’s low mobile money uptake which makes it difficult for unbanked customers to pay for

solar unlike their peers in East Africa.”

According to Eyinade, NoMAP would collect and report evidence

improvement in sales, churn, default rate, customer experience and

energy access to the unserved.

“It is hoped that these five companies that we have partnered on the

integration will be able to expand into new off-grid communities since

collection risk will be addressed by this integration,” he added.

Commenting on the partnership, Chief Executive Officer, Swifta, Mr.

Ayo Farinu, said: We’re delighted to have completed this partnership

which is aimed at solving a major challenge in the solar space with

respect to users in unbanked rural communities.

“We’ve been able to do some transactions, test the systems end-to-end

to see the workability and we’re glad that we have made a lot of

progress. But we can do better; we’re currently working and preparing

for a full-blown rollout. A lot of measures have been put in place;

we’re doing some marketing activities to ensure that we create

awareness for consumers to easily identify our agents across the

regions of the country.”