In many energy-rich nations, television is taken for granted. It’s old technology, after all, one that will celebrate its 90th birthday this year. In fact, you’re probably reading this article on a souped-up version of a TV right now without really thinking about it.
For 600 million sub-Saharan Africans living in energy poverty, owning a TV is nothing more than a dream.
“We went to Kenya in 2011 and everybody was buying a little solar light. That was the big thing they wanted. Things have now moved way beyond that. They now want a reasonable approximation to mainstream electricity. It’s moved to phone charging and wanting a TV,” says Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of Power Africa partner Azuri Technologies (@azuri_tech).
So what did Azuri do? They partnered with home entertainment satellite producer Zuku, to produce the first pay-as-you-go solar-powered satellite TV system targeting Kenyans. The program combines solar home power, a 24-inch TV, satellite dish and Zuku Smart+ entertainment with 50 TV and 21 radio channels.
Doing transformative work like that leads to recognition, and Azuri has certainly been recognized — in December, Azuri was named the #1 international cleantech company in the prestigious Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA) awards, held annually in conjunction with the Global Solutions Summit and the Club de Madrid (CdM), an organization that comprises more than 100 former Presidents, Prime Ministers and Heads of State.
Power Africa partners skew toward the cutting-edge, and Azuri embodies that spirit, creatively using crowd-funding to supplement some forward-leaning projects, like the recent one that is raising $160,000 for the purchase of 1,200 Solar Home Systems to provide power to nearly 6,000 villagers in rural Harambe, Kenya. Creative use of technology is critical to solving the world’s energy deficit, and like many of our partners, Azuri looks to transformative technologies of the past to shape their vision of the future. “It’s a bit like PC buying in the 1980’s in the UK,” Bransfield-Garth says of integrated solar home TV systems. “You had to put everything together. It’s the same for solar powered TV. You can get the TV but you’re not sure what channels you can get. What we wanted to offer was an integrated solution.”