We are delighted to announce that Deciwatt has won a £174,000 grant from Innovate UK to trial nowlight in two countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. More specifically, we will use the trials to find ways of making nowlight financially accessible to households with very low incomes.
There are just under one billion people in the world who still have no access to electricity. Many of these people rely on dangerous, expensive and polluting kerosene lamps for light. Furthermore, many do not have electricity but do own a mobile phone and must pay every time that they need to charge it.
We believe that nowlight has the potential to provide these households with access to clean, reliable and affordable power. In fact, by eliminating the need to buy kerosene or pay for mobile phone charging, we expect nowlight to pay for itself in less than a year.
However, the great majority of people who do not have electricity cannot afford to purchase a product like nowlight in one go. As such, we need to find ways of allowing these customers to pay for a nowlight in manageable small instalments.
Using the grant from Innovate UK, we will work with local partners to experiment with different approaches that can make nowlight more financially accessible. These will include customers borrowing the money to purchase nowlight from a community lending group and using integrated Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) technology.
PAYG technology will mean that the user is only required to pay a small deposit in order to receive their nowlight. Much like a pre-paid mobile phone, the nowlight will provide light and power until the customer runs out of credit. For example, perhaps the credit a user purchases when they pay the deposit will allow them to enjoy 200 hours of light.
User’s will be able to see how much credit they have and will see warnings when their credit is running low. If the user’s credit completely runs out, the technology in the nowlight will deactivate the unit. When the user buys more credit, the product will be reactivated. The user will repeat this process of buying and using credit until they have paid the full price of the nowlight.
As shown in the picture below, we expect customers will be able to purchase credit through their mobile phone and they will receive a code that they can enter into the nowlight.
PAYG technology has already been implemented by some other organisations that sell energy products. As you can see from the picture above, typically the PAYG product has an integrated keyboard that allows the user to enter the code they receive when purchase credit.
This presents an interesting challenge as it would be expensive to integrate a keyboard into nowlight and clearly our goal here is to make nowlight more financially accessible. Therefore, instead of using a keyboard, we plan to allow users to cycle through numbers by pulling on nowlight’s cord. When the correct number shows on the nowlight’s display, the user will press one of the nowlight’s buttons to confirm they want to enter that digit and move to the next number of the code.
Although this project won’t start until later in 2019, we know many of you supported our campaign because you were excited by the potential that nowlight has help those who live without electricity. We hope that you are as pleased as we are about this grant, which will help us understand how to get nowlight to those who need it most.