Zimbabwe’s distributor of solar panels, batteries and solar devices like lights as well as radios and televisions, Zonful Energy, has received financial backing from the GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion.
Zonful Energy is a for profit social enterprise that sells modular decentralized and scalable solar energy systems on Pay As You Go model to rural, urban and peri-urban off-grid consumers in the country.
It has become one of nine startups selected by the GSMA Innovation Fund for a cash grant. Among those nine were 4 other African startups which are, WidEnergy (Zambia), ScholarX (Nigeria), Africa 118 (Ethiopia) and Ensibuuko (Uganda).
The grants awarded to the startups ranged between US$137,000 to US$377,000.
In a statement, Zonful Energy Chief Executive Officer, William Ponela, said under this project, the company is going to help Zimbabweans in the rural areas to purchase smartphones.
“With this project we are going to help our remote rural customers finance their purchases of smartphones in an affordable way commonly known as Pay As You Go. In the process we will be making sure that no one is left out of the digitalization process especially in these global trying times of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA, John Giusti, said The Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion will drive partnerships to develop new and innovative ways of increasing use of the mobile internet so that more citizens can fully participate in society and the economy.
“Today, we understand the value of being connected like never before. Mobile operators have invested almost US$1 trillion in network infrastructure over the past five years, bringing mobile internet coverage to 91 per cent of the world’s population. Despite this, 3.3 billion people are not using mobile internet services.Now is the time to find innovative ways to solve this usage gap for the digitally excluded regardless of who they are or where they are,” he said.
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