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Latest News

Lease To Own Energy

MTN subscribers in Uganda use ReadyPay to power phones, lights, and radio

From NextBillion:

With 1.3 billion living without electricity worldwide, the global need for off-grid energy solutions is massive. People living off-grid, spend an estimated $38 billion on kerosene for lighting and $10 billion on phone charging each year.

Fenix International, where I serve as Business Development Director, was founded in 2009 with the mission to bring affordable energy solutions to people in emerging markets and improve their quality of life. Thanks in part to the tools provided by digital finance, we’ve been able to offer products that these customers need, at prices they can afford – and as the mobile money ecosystem has evolved, so has our product line.

Read full article.

Announcing the Fenix Luna Power Module

luna_module

Luna Module – 12W. Peak power delivered during a full moon near midnight.

Today, San Francisco solar startup Fenix International unveiled revolutionary plans for a major advancement in photovoltaic technology: the Luna Power Module, which captures energy from the moon’s lunar rays.

“Years ago, during a full moon, we asked ourselves, ‘Why do we only use solar panels during the day?’  Since then, we’ve been working night and day to develop a panel that could work using lunar radiation,” says Fenix Founder & CEO, Mike Lin. “We believe that drawing power from moonlight via a lunar panel will be a real game changer.”

Since its founding in 2009, Fenix has been growing a large solar customer base in East Africa, a region where 85 of 100 million people live without electricity.  Fortunately, this region is ideally situated to draw maximum solar power.  Near the equator, the sun shines nearly 12 hours per day and panel alignment is easy. However, solar has a fatal flaw: it does not work at night, when many people recharge their mobile phones, TOS phasers and other devices.

Hybrid Luna/Solar Module. 8.5W solar, 6W lunar for 24 hour operation.

Hybrid Luna/Solar Module. 8.5W solar, 6W lunar for 24 hour operation.

Fenix will launch two versions of its Luna product line in late 2014, the Luna Power Module and a ground-breaking Hybrid Luna/Solar Module which captures the rays of both the sun and moon to provide 24/7 power.  “Currently, the Luna’s charging efficiencies are lower than its solar counterparts,” says Senior Mechanical Engineer Paul Jehlen, who led Luna product development.  “However, we expect that as our technology matures, the Luna will be 7-10 times more efficient than photovoltaic modules at half the cost.”

The company expects the lunar panel market to build momentum quickly, turning the tide by early next year.  While Fenix Luna Modules are poised to disrupt the East African solar market, analysts are already bullish about the technology’s potential to eclipse solar markets in the US, China, and Europe.  Fenix’s Co-Founder and COO Brian Warshawsky says the company remains committed to its mission.  “Our primary focus will continue to be on the 1.3 billion people who live without electricity in emerging markets, serving them with ReadyPay Solar, a lease-to-own power system that enables customers to purchase clean renewable energy through micropayments on their mobile phones.” says Warshawsky. “However, we will look to grow our clean lunar energy technology and expand to industrialized nations as our bandwidth allows.”

…Happy April Fool’s Day!  Apollo-gises if we caused any confusion or got your hopes up for a lunar panel.  We wish this moonshot idea were true, because it would be pretty cool…

Uganda’s Newest Utility: Pay-as-you-go Solar Power

From VOA News:

KAMPALA — In Uganda, telecom provider MTN and a company called Fenix are gearing up this year for a nationwide rollout of pre-paid electricity, similar to pre-paid airtime, but using solar kits. Uganda has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa – a continent where some 600 million people are off the power grid.

The village of Kiwumu lies less than 32 kilometers from the Ugandan capital, Kampala. But the bright lights of the city seem worlds away. Like the vast majority of Uganda, Kiwumu is off the electrical grid, and teacher Michael Mugerwa does not expect things to change any time soon.

Read full article.

Fenix awarded GSMA’s MECS grant to scale ultra-affordable “pay-to-own” energy solution across Uganda

Fenix International has been awarded a Mobile Enabled Community Services (MECS) Market Validation grant by the GSMA to launch ReadyPay, an ultra-affordable “pay-to-own” solar energy solution, in Uganda.

The award programme, designed to help improve access to basic energy and water services in underserved communities, will enable Fenix to roll out ReadyPay nationwide offering clean, affordable solar energy to over 30 million Ugandans who live without power on a daily basis.

The ReadyPay Power System will be available through MTN—Africa’s largest telecom—on a pay-to-own basis through MTN Mobile Money. With ReadyPay, customers can make affordable and flexible payments for electricity on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to charge phones and power lights, radios and TVs.

Starting from 40,000 UGX ($16), a customer can a take a ReadyPay kit home with 7 days of free power included. Additional days can be purchased via MTN Mobile Money for as low as 1,000 UGX ($0.39 per day). These Mobile Money payments are credited towards the customer owning the solar kit over time, while powering their homes or businesses.

Mike Lin, CEO of Fenix International, said: “We are honoured to receive this MECS award. Following a successful ReadyPay pilot, this MECS grant provides vital funding for Fenix to validate and scale ReadyPay across Uganda.”

Fenix International first began developing energy products with MTN in Uganda in 2009. ReadyPay builds on the success of Fenix’s first product, the ReadySet, a plug-and-play solar charging system that Fenix designed to empower entrepreneurs to charge phones and lights at kiosks in communities without electricity.

ReadyPay is a multifunctional solar power system that includes a solar panel, smart battery featuring two USB ports & two car lighter adapter ports, and a range of lights and phone charging accessories. Larger kits include a radio or TV.

This project is receiving funding from the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, Inc. (GSMA Foundation), which, in turn, received its funding by UK aid from the UK Government. The views expressed are not necessarily those of GSMA Foundation or the UK Government.

About Fenix International
Founded in 2009, Fenix International is a venture-backed renewable energy company with offices in East Africa and Silicon Valley. With core expertise in power electronics, product design and base-of-the-pyramid marketing, Fenix’s mission is to deliver quality of life to the 1.3 billion people who live without power in emerging markets. www.fenixintl.com

About MTN Uganda 
Launched in 1998, MTN Uganda is the leading communications operator in Uganda, offering Mobile and Fixed telecommunications, Mobile Money Services and Internet Service Provisioning. As of 30 September 2013, MTN Uganda recorded 8.4 million subscribers across Uganda. Visit us at www.mtn.co.ug and for our football fans www.mtnfootball.com. Customers can also follow us on www.youtube.com/mtnug and www.twitter.com/mtnugandacare for assistance.

About the MECS Innovation Fund
Mobile Enabled Community Services, MECS for short, encompasses any energy and water service provided to a community which includes a mobile component, whether it is voice, SMS, USSD, Machine2Machine, NFC, a mobile operator’s agent network or tower infrastructure. The MECS Programme aims to seize the opportunity, leveraging mobile technology and infrastructure to enhance access to affordable and reliable energy and clean water in underserved communities.

Established with the support of the UK Government the MECS Innovation Fund will provide up to £2.4M in grants. The specific objectives of the Innovation fund are to:

  • Accelerate efforts using mobile technology to enable improved or increased access to water or energy services for underserved communities
  • Identify innovative business models that can support mobile innovations for energy and water services
  • Generate knowledge about the application of mobile enabled services which can be shared with the development community and mobile industry
  • Stimulate productive partnerships between mobile operators/tower companies and energy provides, water providers, NGOs, entrepreneurs and academics to achieve these objectives at scale

http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/mobile-enabled-community-services/innovation-fund

For more information, please contact Fenix International:

Uganda:
Chris Bagnall
Marketing Director, East Africa
m:+256 (0)785 085 115
cbagnall@fenixintl.com

United States:
Peter Glenn
Business Development Director
m: +1 415 742 1649
pglenn@fenixintl.com

Imagery:
Imagery provided separately. High resolution images can be requested by emailing press@fenixintl.com.

Fenix and MTN launch ReadyPay, pay-as-you-go solar power in Africa

In a bid to improve energy and telecommunications access for the 1.3 billion people in emerging markets without electricity, San Francisco startup Fenix International has launched ReadyPay, an ultra-affordable “pay-as-you-go” energy solution.

MTNReadyPayLaunched with MTN—Africa’s largest telecom— Mike Lin, CEO of Fenix International, said: “Fenix is delighted to build on our 4 year partnership with MTN to launch the ReadyPay Solar Power System. ReadyPay will bring clean, reliable solar energy to the 30 million Ugandans without access to electricity. The rapid growth and adoption of Mobile Money enables us to make energy even more affordable with flexible payments to match our customers’ needs. 

The ReadyPay Power System is available on a pay-as-you-go basis using MTN Mobile Money, a payment platform that allows mobile subscribers to send and receive money via their cell phones.  ReadyPay enables customers to make affordable and flexible payments for electricity on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to charge their phones and power lights, radios and TVs.

Starting from 40,000 Uganda Shillings (less than $16), a customer can a take a ReadyPay kit home with 7 days of power included. Additional days can be purchased via micropayments as low as 1,000 Uganda Shillings ($0.39).  Micropayments are credited towards the customer owning the solar kit over time, while powering their homes or businesses.

“For example, on the most affordable kit, a payment of 1,000 Uganda Shillings will provide power for a day, whilst a larger payment of 30,000 Uganda Shillings will provide power for a month”, said MTN Chief Marketing Officer Ernst Fonternel. “This is all thanks to MTN Mobile Money which means customers can make small, affordable payments until they own the system.”

Fonternel added that the product was launched in Lira on 18 November 2013 with great success and is set to roll out across Uganda early next year.

Talking about the key benefits of the product, Fonternel said: “The ReadyPay Power System provides bright, safe, reliable lighting without the risk of using kerosene lamps, and secure phone charging without leaving your own home. It’s easy to set-up, no technician is needed, and comes with an 18 month warranty.”

Fenix International first began developing energy products with MTN in Uganda in 2009.  ReadyPay builds on the success of Fenix’s first product, the ReadySet, a plug-and-play solar charging system that Fenix designed to empower entrepreneurs to charge phones and lights at kiosks in communities without electricity.

ReadyPay is a multifunctional solar power system that includes a solar panel, smart battery featuring two USB ports & two car lighter adapter ports plus a range of lights and phone charging accessories. Larger kits include a radio or TV.  Additional accessories like hair clippers or flashlights are sold separately.

 

About Fenix International
Founded in 2009, Fenix International is a venture-backed renewable energy company based in San Francisco, California.  With core expertise in power electronics, product design and base-of-the-pyramid marketing, Fenix’s mission is to deliver renewable energy to the 1.3 billion people who live without power in emerging markets.  www.fenixintl.com

 

About MTN Uganda
Launched in 1998, MTN Uganda is the leading communications operator in Uganda, offering Mobile and Fixed telecommunications, Mobile Money Services and Internet Service Provisioning. As of 30 September 2013, MTN Uganda recorded 8.4 million subscribers across Uganda. Visit us at www.mtn.co.ug and for our football fans www.mtnfootball.com. Customers can also follow us on www.youtube.com/mtnug and www.twitter.com/mtnugandacare for assistance.


About the MTN Group
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator, connecting subscribers in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 30 September 2013, MTN recorded 203.8 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Visit us at www.mtn.com.

For more information, please contact Fenix International:

Uganda:
Chris Bagnall
Marketing Director, East Africa
cbagnall@fenixintl.com

United States:
Peter Glenn
Business Development Director
pglenn@fenixintl.com

Imagery:
Imagery provided separately. High resolution images can be requested by emailing press@fenixintl.com.