Mercy Corps Liberia with funding from the European Union (EU) on Wednesday, February 27, launched a new solar home system called Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) systems on a large scale for the first time in Liberia as part of the Light Up Liberia Program.
The Light Up Liberia Program is meant to help provide reliable and affordable energy to thousands of Liberians living in rural areas.
The PAYG solar home system provides six to eight hours of emission-free lighting each day and enough power to charge mobile phones, play MP3 and radio respectively.
The program, which was launched in Gbarnga, Bong County, brought together superintendents and town chiefs as well as network distributors from Montserrado, Nimba, Gbarpolu and Margibi counties.
The participants were all passionate about the payment option for the solar home system.
Mercy Corps Country Director Kwasi Gyeabour expressed excitement over the huge turnout at the launch.
He said the launch of the product in the county will afford ordinary Liberians access to clean and reliable energy.
Mr. Gyeabour added that Mercy Corps is in the country to support the government’s effort through its Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
He further explained that access to energy can bring transformation by amplifying objectives and putting necessary mechanisms into place which will help build more secure communities for Liberians; “so this is why we are here to work with the government and other partners to ensure that citizens’ desires are met. We look forward for more opportunities to collaborate with national government, city mayors, and superintendents, to deliver more development in the county.”
Gyeabour told the participants that Mercy Corps is also providing capacity building for young people in the country.
In remarks, Madam Lucia Herbert, who welcomed Mercy Corps team in the county, lauded the tremendous effort Mercy Corps is providing to them.
Madam Herbert is the city mayor of Bong County.
She said the cost of running electricity in the country is very expensive, so the launch of the solar energy home product will help them to save more money.
“I am encouraging our people to make use of this opportunity that Mercy Corps is doing in the country and to serve as ambassador for them,” she said.
Also speaking, acting Bong County Superintendent Boakai Sheriff pledged his county’s support to Mercy Corps. He said the government cannot do it all but will need the support of partners, to buttress Liberia’s developmental agenda.
Orlando S. Kanswen, Mercy Corps Deputy Program Manager for Light Up Liberia (LUL), said the program will provide better energy access for those who cannot afford to run generators in rural communities.
He said: “Mercy Corps introduced this solar home system that can be purchased on a sell-pay basis, because our goal is to supply affordable and reliable power to millions and change the way they live.”
Pay-as-you-go solar home systems allow users to pay over time for their solar systems instead of one-time upfront payment. This resolves the challenge of high upfront payments to acquire solar systems by households.
Under this campaign more than 2,000 Lighting Global quality-verified “Biolite SolarHome 620” pay-as-you-go solar home systems are expected to be distributed in Liberia.
He said the cost for the solar system is US$120. But if an individual will need it, then he/she should make an initial payment of US$20 or its Liberian dollar equivalent for 30 days.
After the first payment, they can then pay each month L$1,650 through mobile money over a period of ten months.
Over time, the system will be paid off and customers will be able to keep their system without additional payment or upgrade to a larger one.
Kanswen also told the participants that any interested buyer can purchase the product through their local agents in Montserrado, Bong, Gbarpolu, and Nimba counties.
He said schools and homes, as well as businesses, will be able to keep activities going into the night will do more than save on energy; they will be able to keep longer hours and see a marked improvement in the local economy.
Meanwhile, remarks were also made by Light Up Liberia Program Manager Emmanuel Aziebor, GIZ/Endev, Rural Renewable Energy Agency, among others.