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Stand-alone Productive Power

The Fourth Pillar of Rural Electrification

The African Mini-grid Developers Association (AMDA) defines the three “pillars” of rural electrification as:

Grid extension
Solar Home Systems (SHS)


Each has their role to play, but each has its advantages, opportunities as well as drawbacks and disadvantages – see figure.

The Fourth Pillar of Rural Electrification

Stand-alone Productive Power, where high efficiency end-use equipment is matched to an individual power supply (from 15W to 30kW plus), combines the advantages of mini-grids and SHS’s whilst minimising or eliminating the drawbacks. Figure 1 shows how Stand-alone Productive Power compares with grid-extensions; mini-grids and Solar Home Systems
(SHS’s). The white text shows the the pros and the yellow shows the cons of each approach to supplying power to rural communities. Stand-alone Productive Power combines the best features of mini-grids and SHS's whilst minimising their drawbacks. Critically, this enable us to power business without requiring subsidies.

Africa Power provides a combination of Stand-alone Productive Power and SHS’s which we call Vijijini Power (Village Power) which combines the best of both pillars for our customers. For investors, the synergies between the 2 pillars diversifies and reduces risks facilitating cost-saving synergies.

Some of our larger customers, (whom we call anchor clients) already have a substantial investment in electrical end-use equipment and typically rely on diesel generators to either augment a weak and unreliable grid, or, more frequently, in rural areas as their principle power supply.


We can deploy stand-alone solar power systems to supplant or augment these diesel generators with a more reliable power supply at a significant cost savings. We back our reliability with penalty clauses should we fail to meet agreed up-time standards or speed of response to an outage. We then work with these clients, over time, to replace their inefficient, generally older AC equipment with higher-efficiency DC equipment. This reduces costs; improves reliability; enables better operating cycles at higher efficiency; improved productivity; and so on, to improve our clients profitability whilst growing our income and portfolio

Examples of fossil fuel displacment include:

Cell phone towers where 99.98% reliability is required (under 8 hours outage per annum)

Milk Collections Centres where milk is chilled for safe onward transport to the milk processing and pasteurisation plants. Improved insulation; Dc compressors and phase change material increase efficiency and allow a reduction/elimination of expensive and frequently-replaced batteries.

Displacing petrol driven or generator driven water pumps for irrigation

Kerosene night fishing lights

Small “Honda” generators used by micro-enterprises for power for fridges; lights; agri-processing; 

Productive Power; PUE; POP
Productive Power comes in many forms, names and acronyms including Productive Use of Energy (PUE); Productive Use Of Power (POP), and simply Productive Power.

At Africa Power, we recognise that our customers rarely want (to buy) electricity. They want the benefits that electricity can provide and that also requires provision of the end-use equipment to make productive and beneficial use of Power to add-value to lives and increase profits for livelihoods.

Mini-grids and grid extension merely enable Productive use of Energy. Provision of electricity (however clean, inexpensive or subsidized) may be necessary for Productive Power, but it is not sufficient. Off-grid communities do not have a surfeit of electrical equipment – mainly because they do not have any power! Similarly, if they cannot afford to buy a solar power system, then they probably do not have the capital or savings to buy the end-use equipment.

At Africa Power, we PROVIDE Productive Power. We PROVIDE both the end-use equipment and appliances and the power system matched to the equipment (sized to meet the equipment’s duty cycle when used in a household, community or business environment).

Our more expensive solutions are rented, ensuring affordability for all. Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) technology ensures a high payment compliance, shutting down the systems in the event of non-payment.

However, technology is not sufficient to ensure Productive Power will be profitable and hence transformative. We add a full suite of maintenance, repair and refurbishment for all our customers during warranty or for however long the systems are rented, together with access to all necessary business inputs, training and business support. We call this full solution a Business-in-a-Box (BinB) ™

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For more infomation on business in a box:

For more infomation on investing into Stand-alone power:

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