Tanzania: Equity Bank to Accelerate Use of Solar Power

EQUITY Bank Tanzania has said it wants to accelerate the installation of solar power devices to households that are off-grid through the issuance of affordable loans.

The bank, penned an agreement with Zola Electric on Wednesday, targeted to double the number of households reached by the off-grid firm in the next two to three months.

Equity Managing Director Robert Kiboti told reporters that they targeted to double Zola's 160,000 households number in a short span by issuing special loans to accelerate their economic wellbeing.

"We want to reach as many off-grid households as possible... using both Equity and Zola branches and agents," Mr Kiboti said.

Zola, one of the oldest solar device supplying firms to off-grid customers, has reached out to 160,000 families in almost a decade ago.

Mr Kiboti said they would use their 14 branches in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, Dodoma and Unguja and its 4,000 agents countrywide to reach those in need of solar devices.

The devices will be made available through affordable loans of between 0.3m/- and 2m/- with about 16 per cent interest rates.

A loan product designed to offer customers the comfort of acquiring Zola devices which will be based on both rural and urban clientele.

"The target market is for salaried customers, micro individuals and savings groups. The product is exclusively for purchase of Zola devices," Mr Kiboti said.

What a customer needs is to have an Equity Bank account and vetting would be conducted based on know-your-customer requirements and a quotation from Zola. This follows by screening, appraisal and approval done at the bank and Zola will install a solar system.

Zola Managing Director-East Africa (Tanzania and Rwanda) Johnson Kiwango said the partnership mainly targeted rural off-grid households at affordable rates.

"Our onetime survey at solar shops in Dar es Salaam unveiled that many of them want to buy the devices, but face money challenges. The partnership is going to address that challenge since both Zola and Equity will process loan applications," Mr Kiwango said.

He said by accessing solar power, which is clean energy, people in rural areas could continue with their income generating activities whenever they needed it.

An Equity and Zola agreement has come at the right time since it is estimated that 8 million families in the country are unable to access power.

Zola is feasible in every village in the country and is supported by over 600 agents. The firm was one of the first organisations to offer pay-as-you-go solution for a home solar system.

The agreement is specifically to fully support the underprivileged who have not been connected to electricity at affordable price.

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