M-KOPA sells 30,000 solar TVs in Kenya and looks to add Internet access – expanding to Uganda and Tanzania
2 December 2016
A major constraint on the roll-out of wider TV coverage in African countries has been access to electricity. An area might have a terrestrial signal but without grid power it was near on impossible to power a TV. Kenya’s M-KOPA now has a solution: a 16” solar TV which it sells on credit. Russell Southwood spoke to its Chief Commercial Officer Yesse Oenga about how it works.
M-KOPA’s 16” TV runs off a solar cell and has an in-built digital decoder that with a GoTV aerial allows it access to 64 TV channels. Inevitably the TV is made in China.
It will also have an option that will give some of the channels on the Zuku platform when it runs another decoder in parallel with a separate box that is currently being built. “One day we want to include Pay TV on a Pay-as-You-Go basis for those unable to afford a bouquet of content.”
The TV is paid for in installments and costs US$350. Buyers have to have already paid for a solar lamp, torch or radio but they can then make a deposit of KS3,000 and pay for it in installments over 40 days. Paying by installment means that M-KOPA is selling to lower income groups than might otherwise think about buying a TV.
The TVs have been selling right across the country and M-KOPA has sold 30,000 of them:”The TV is very big and is a product everyone aspires to. TV can provide a communications platform.”
So what are customer reactions to the new TV?:”It’s very early days but they clearly enjoy seeing what’s going on around the world from the comfort of their own home. They enjoy some of the news channels and have been watching American news (in the run-up to the Presidential election). They also have educational content for their children. It changes lives with knowledge of what’s going on. Farmers can get knowledge about what’s happening to different crops and it affects their ability to do their business.”
M-KOPA prides itself on listening to what its customers want and adjusting their products. So I asked Oenga what they were asking for in terms of the TV?:”Some people are asking for bigger screens and we’ll be doing that in the next evolution. The other thing they ask for is can we use it as a computer?...They also want educational content for their children so we’re looking at an option for streamed education content.”
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