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MTN and utility provider Nova-Lumos will collaborate to bring 'mobile electricity' to Nigeria for the first time
The service will be aimed at those living in rural Nigeria and other parts of the country that are not connected to the main electricity grid, said Nova-Lumos.
An MTN official said that the service would be provided using a solar panel and an indoor unit that would allow MTN customers to subscribe to alternative electricity on demand using their mobile phone. A subscriber can purchase the unit for around US$60, as well as purchase airtime through a mobile phone with an MTN SIM card. MTN users can replace kerosene, candles and flashlights with modern electricity that can power significant lights, cellphones, fans, PCs or laptops, radios, TVs and other small electronic devices.
Michael Ikpoki, CEO of MTN Nigeria, said, “By paying for usage only in small payments, the same way our customers purchase airtime and other mobile services, MTN and Nova-Lumos will offer an innovative and widely-accessible service for all MTN customers. MTN is committed to investing in the future of mobile electricity to our customers across Nigeria.”
The number of mobile phones in Africa has only sharply over the past few years - as of June 2013, there were 502 million mobile connections, stated a Reuters report. Statistics by the World Bank, GSMA and Informa Telecoms and Media showed that mobile subscriptions every 100 people rose from two per cent in 2001 to 53 per cent in 2011. Over the past couple of years, mobile companies and energy producers have demonstated that they are keen on tapping into this extensive user base to increase access to power.
Nova-Lumos has claimed to be the world’s first distributed utility provider, bringing affordable and clean electricity to communities that have been living off the grid.
David Vortman, CEO and co-founder of Nova-Lumos, said, “We are very excited about our partnership with MTN, which will enable us to distribute the Nova-Lumos power systems across Nigeria and touch millions of lives. One of our guiding principles is that the Nova-Lumos service must be affordable and accessible to anyone in Nigeria in order to have a meaningful impact on the Nigerian electricity market.”
Reports added that Nova-Lumos in partnership with MTN Nigeria received funding from the GSMA’s Mobile Enabled Community Services (MECS) Innovation Grant Fund with the support of the UK Government.