M-Pesa inventor plans to light low income homes
Posted Friday, October 26 2012 at 18:34
- The solar device is meant to provide affordable and clean energy to low income households in Africa. M-Pesa was about getting money more accessible through mobile phones”
M-Kopa and M-Pesa inventor Nick Hughes
The man behind the M-Pesa mobile money transfer service Nick Hughes has unveiled a new invention.
Mr Hughes recently launched a solar powered light that uses the mobile phone.
Safaricom mobile phone subscribers will pay a small fee daily to light their homes. The solar kit known as M-Kopa which was unveiled in Eldoret town last weekend, requires subscribers to pay Sh40 daily for one year to light their households.
“A subscriber needs Sh2,500 deposit to acquire the kit then you start paying your daily instalments through mobile money transfer system, M-Pesa, and you will be guaranteed light in your household,” he said.
The payment system works with the subscriber’s Sim cards to enable payment for the instalments. Safaricom can switch off the light when a customer defaults on the instalments.
The kit has three light bulbs and a subscriber can run a mobile phone charging bureau with the device.
Once all the instalments have been paid, a subscriber will have a clean source of energy at homes.
M-Kopa and M-Pesa complement each other and both are Mr Hughes’s brainchild.
“My inventions are all about solving problems. The solar device is meant to provide affordable and clean energy to low income households in Africa. M-Pesa was about getting money more accessible through mobile phones,” he added.
He said that penetration of solar lighting in Africa was still very low and expects that M-Kopa will enable low income populations accesses affordable solar home lighting.
In 2005, Mr Hughes, who holds a doctorate in Environmental Science from the London Business School, was granted £1 million (Sh137 million) from the UK government to introduce mobile money transfer services in Africa.
“The two inventions — M-Pesa and M-Kopa — have been designed specifically to suit the needs and budgets of Kenyan consumers.”
Mr Hughes, who has a decade experience in mobile industry having worked for Vodafone in Britain, regards M-Pesa as one of his greatest achievements in life.
He is thinks that M-Kopa solar lighting will be more successful than M-Pesa.
“M-Pesa was one my greatest achievements in life and I expect that M-Kopa will be an enormous success story surpassing M-Pesa,” he said.
Since the introduction of the mobile money transfer service in 2007, the number of transactions have hit 15 million up from 19,000 transacting an estimated Sh1 trillion annually via mobile handsets.
Mr Hughes said that they chose Kenya for the lighting device due to its cash-based economy and the entrepreneurial aggression synonymous with Kenyans.