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Press release: MTN backs solar power in Benin

The Power out of Poverty Partnership is a public-private initiative led by SNV in partnership with MTN Benin, the Government of Benin, local solar power companies and a local micro-finance institution.
The partnership takes advantage of MTNs rural distribution network to develop new commercial supply chains for solar power products. During the first implementation phase, the project has supported 100 MTN airtime agents invest in a new solar power business.
“Before the project, I would sell MTN airtime and some other trade goods. Now I charge 30-50 mobile phones a day, sell a solar lamp every few days, and make more airtime sales than before. My business is moving,” said MTN agent Mrs Affoussatou Gande.
MTN is building a reputation across Africa for supporting solar market development on the back of their distribution channels. “This initiative is perfectly aligned with MTN’s philosophy of doing good business as a corporate citizen; it improves the livelihoods of our customers, reduces the use of unsafe and polluting products, and helps MTN expand its services,” says Mr Nicolas Gomez, Head of Corporate Services.
In Benin, where more than 70% of the population live off-grid, the government was keen to get behind the project. ANADER, the government’s renewable energy agency, agreed to waive the 40% import and duty tax for all Lighting Africa approved solar products imported under the project. “Working with SNV and other partners, ANADER’s longer term goal is to offer tax exemption as standard for all quality solar products, to help the people of Benin access modern energy,” said Mr Orou Batta Seh Dan, Director General of ANADER.

SNV’s role in the partnership is one of market catalyser; bringing the various partners together, providing training where needed, facilitating access to finance and supporting the supply chain actors in doing good business together. SNV’s goal is to scale up to 500 MTN agents nationwide, providing accessible solar power sales points to more than 2,000 off-grid villages in Benin.
With average product sales increasing per MTN agent, SNV Project Manager Edouard Fagnon expects the next six months to see 20,000 new sales. “In the past six months the project has sold10,000 solar lamps. In the next six months we expect sales to double. With more commercial financing in the pipeline and pay-as-you-go products coming, I think over 50,000 product sales next year is reasonable,” said Mr Fagnon.



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