Oct 25, 2017

Solar Kit that connects rural homes to the global village

Renewable Energy is a fast growing sector in Kenya. Solar Energy is at the forefront due to the abundant sunshine received almost all year round. Despite high initial capital costs, low awareness of the potential opportunities and economic benefits offered by solar technologies, there is an increase in the number of enterprises that have been able to tap into this lucrative sector.

One such enterprise that has emerged in the Solar Energy sector is Kenya Greens Supply Limited (KGS) which started as a distributor of solar kits that were available in the market in 2014. These were extremely basic, only offering lighting and phone charging, while using lead acid accumulator batteries for power storage. Complaints from users compelled the KGS team comprising of Kevin Musila and Marielle Fillit as co-Founders to innovate and introduce Greenkit, a solar kit with a 20 Watt panel and 12 AH power with an inverter to serve for lighting, charging and powering a television. This went well, but later hit a snug when users with Cathode Ray Tubes TV could not power them on the kit.

The choices present at the time were to offer the Greenkit plus an LED screen for TV (quite costly over time), or develop a single product that had an attached screen for iDTV (desirable due to the many opportunities it presented). In 2015 the KGS team began designs on the AllSola Home Entertainment System, a kit that is solar charged, and has an attached screen for iDTV and offers free-to-air TV and app internet content.  The kit will light four rooms, provide phone charging, digital TV and internet. It also has an amplified music system to sooth your evenings.

The AllSola is pretty much suitable to a whole range of users from households with completely no power especially in rural areas, to Pico solar users who need an upgrade, to grid users who wish to have an alternative source of power in cases of blackouts and brownouts, to campers and outdoor event enthusiasts and to temporary businesses (vibanda) that might need lighting into the night. The kit will also offer new business opportunities for users in entertainment, powering electronics and any other associated trade.

One key mandate of the AllSola is to increase information access to potential users. The iDTV is purely DVB-T2 free-to-air. In addition, the screen will offer app internet content in commerce, agribusiness, education, news and social affairs. Information will open opportunities access for users to explore thus empowering them.

To date, KGS has completed designs, developed a prototype, and upgraded the prototype to a working commercial sample. The company is working around the clock to seek funds for manufacture and launch, slated for early 2018. It is also working on business development and local partnerships necessary to make it a success.

KGS has a team of four employees in Kenya and two in the United States of America. It also has several local and international partners and advisors. Kevin noted in a recent interview, “we appreciate a great deal on the support we are getting from Kenya Climate Innovation Centre to enable us operate smoothly in this research and development phase. We are determined to deliver a quality solution to East Africa, to bridge the energy access gap and improve livelihoods.”

By Michelle Mung’ata

 

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