Unilever partners with UK firm to bring pay-as-you-go solar lighting in Kenya

They aim to provide renewable power to households in off-grid areas

By Priyanka Shrestha

Unilever has joined forces with a UK provider of pay-as-you-go solar home systems to provide electricity in off-grid areas across Kenya.

More than 600 million people in Africa have no access to power and many homes are located in regions where grid electricity is expensive.

Under the agreement, Azuri Technologies’ Quad solar home lighting systems will be co-branded with the Unilever Sunlight brand and offered through the latter company’s distribution network.

The lighting technology includes a 10MW solar panel, four LED lights, USB port and connectors for mobile phone charging, rechargeable radio and torch. It is also said to monitor weather conditions and learns customer usage patterns to adjust output to ensure a full night’s power.

According to Azuri, a recent study found owners of solar home systems increased their incomes by $35 (£27) per month on average.

Justin Aspey, Managing Director East Africa at Unilever said: “The partnership with Azuri will help deliver life-changing solar technology to off-grid communities and provide Unilever customers and traders with the benefits of modern energy. solar power is proven to support the local and wider economy and further supports Unilever’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

The news comes as Prime Minister Theresa May is on a three-day state visit to African countries, including Kenya, with business leaders that include Azuri CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth.

Mrs May said Azuri is a “fantastic example of the success UK companies can achieve when they  think big and forge global partnerships”.

She also announced a package of measures during her visit, including investment of up to £300 million to build essential power, roads and water infrastructure in Africa.

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