To Get Kenya's 5 Million Off-Grid Households Watching Television, Azuri And Zuku Are Betting On A Solar-Powered TV

Azuri, a UK-based solar home systems firm, has partnered with Zuku, Wananchi Group’s home entertainment brand, to launch the world’s first complete pay-as-you-go satellite TV package targeting off-grid households in Kenya.

The package combines Azuri’s solar home power kit, which comes with a 24-inch TV, with a satellite dish from Zuku, and a subscription to Zuku Smart+ entertainment, which comes with 48 TV and 21 radio channels

The 24-inch TV offers up to five hours of normal viewing on a single charge. In addition to the TV package, customers also get four home lights, a mobile phone charger, and a rechargeable portable radio.

Consumers will be charged an upfront payment of KES 4,999 (US$49) upon purchasing the solar powered PayGo TV and satellite service, and pay KES 149 (US$1.46) every day for up to two years via mobile money. Once the package is paid for in full, the customers will own the equipment and only pay the subscription fee for the entertainment service, amounting to about US$1,073 in total.

Following the migration from analog to digital television broadcasts in 2015, rural communities were left doubly disadvantaged due to the lack of access to electricity and television, and Azuri’s solar-powered TV is one way for them to overcome this barrier.

This is by no means the first solar powered TV solution. M-KOPA Solar, another pay-as-you-go solar solutions provider, launched a solar-powered TV set in February 2016 as part of its solar home system, which also comes with lights, a phone charger, and a radio.

The main difference between the two services is that M-KOPA’s offers access to free-to-air content, while AzuriTV comes bundled with a Pay TV option. The space will likely see more players come in, especially given the vast potential that off-grid communities present. Up to 65% of people in rural Kenya do not have TVs, and pay TV penetration is forecast to climb from 38.2% in 2015 to 51.7% in 2021 according to the Kenya Digital TV Forecasts report.

Following the launch, the package will be available in selected regions of Central Kenya, with a nationwide launch expected in early 2017, targeting the over 5 million households without access to Kenya’s power grid.

Rural off-grid consumers face three key hurdles to being able to watch TV - access to power, service coverage and the high upfront cost of installation. AzuriTV addresses all three, providing affordable TV, anytime, anywhere. Simon Bransfield-Garth, Azuri Technologies CEO

Speaking during the launch of the service in Embu, Azuri Technologies CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth hailed the milestone made by PayGo solar home systems assuring their customers of better services to meet value for money.

"Solar power has made huge strides. Just a few years ago, a small solar light was new technology. Today we are providing a TV and service provision that would not look out of place in any major city in the world,” Mr Bransfield-Garth added.

"This is a very exciting opportunity we are giving our new customers and viewers", Zuku Satellite TV CEO Jay Chudasama said during the launch.

The innovative approach, he added, will offer a revolutionary way to reach out to the over five million Kenyan homes without electricity, and also contribute greatly towards deepening the television penetration in the country in general.

Cover Image: Azuri CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth, Area MCA Andrew Musakwa, and Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti at the launch.

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