E.ON Off Grid Solutions (EOGS) is a rural utility company which builds decentralised, container-based energy solutions. The company operates under the brand name Rafiki Power (Swahili for “Friendly Power”) in rural Tanzania and is engaged in developing and operating mini-grid projects to provide high-quality grid-equivalent electricity access in remote areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the company has installed eight mini-grids and is providing clean and affordable energy to more than 900 household and business customers. Rafiki Power’s hybrid systems (solar PV & battery) are packed and standardised in recycled 20ft containers which also accommodate space for a local businesses and product sales. Together with partner organisations, Rafiki Power offers productive use trainings to ensure that the sold products are used efficiently in order to increase local incomes and transform rural village economics in the long-run. The company utilises its in-house developed technological software (AMMP: Advanced Mini-Grid Management Platform) for asset, grid and customer management. Being the key enabler for Rafiki Power’s operational efficiency and scalability, AMMP proves to be an essential key for long-term rural electrification.
Komolo and Temeke are only 70 km away from Arusha, the main economic centre of Tanzania. However, its lack of access to electricity before Rafiki Power’s arrival hinders its development. Service was limited, and productivity was low.
EOGS developed a containerised hybrid system including a 7.5kWp solar PV array (~30kWh/day) and a 897Ah battery storage system. The system runs on 48V AC allowing customers to connect “standard appliances”, be flexible in their consumption, and enable the connection of productive use systems.
The recycled 20-foot container is divided into two parts: the back houses all electrical equipment and in the front is a kiosk (with a refrigerator, battery charging station etc.), enabling the community access to products as well as providing a first access point for customers. A mini-grid including smart metering has been built to connect 78 households and businesses.
The whole system is based on mobile money prepaid electricity sales. This allows avoiding cost inefficient cash handling and customers to always be informed of their consumption and balance as well as being able to purchase energy 24/7 at their own convenience. Moreover, added value sales (the procurement of consumer goods (e.g. TVs) and productive use application (e.g. egg incubator, circular saw etc.), either prepaid or on credit) have been implemented to allow customers access the benefits electricity brings.
Finally, EOGS has implemented customer services that allow people to call a hotline in case of problems or questions, regular customer meetings for education purposes, and introduction of how to use appliances.
The total project investment was approx. 100.000 USD (~50% for the power system, ~30% for labour and ~20% for the mini-grid) for this first pilot in 2014. During the 7 successive installations, we have significantly driven down costs (alteration of technology, procurement and efficient last mile processes) to allow for sustainable scalability going forward.
The pilot projects were fully financed by EOGS. Going forward, EOGS is looking for partners to roll out the model across Africa.
Currently, 10 projects are implemented in Tanzania and the development of a larger portfolio will take place over the next years.