The deal between Cambridge-based Azuri Technologies and Unilever Kenya was announced this week as British Prime Minister Theresa May and UK business leaders, including Azuri boss Simon Bransfield-Garth, were in Kenya on a trip to boost trade between the two countries.
Prime Minister May said that Azuri Technologies’ “innovative approach to mobile technology embodies the pioneering spirit of innovation for which Cambridge is globally renowned. I’m delighted that Azuri Technologies is joining me on this visit and they are a fantastic example of the success UK companies can achieve when they think big and forge global partnerships.”
Under the terms of the deal, Azuri’s Quad solar home lighting system will be co-branded with the Unilever Sunlight brand and offered through Unilever’s distribution network, which in Kenya is some 67,000 smallholder traders. The Quad system includes a 10w solar panel, four LED lights, USB port and connectors for mobile phone charging, a rechargeable radio and rechargeable torch.
Over 600 million people in Africa have no access to electricity and many households are located in areas where grid electricity is prohibitively expensive. Since 2012, Azuri – which is headquartered in Cambridge, England – has been providing its solar solutions on a pay-as-you-go basis.
This year, AzuriTV was named ‘Innovative Technology of the Year’ at the annual Africa Utility Week Industry Awards. AzuriTV, the first pay-as-you-go solar TV system of its kind to be launched in Africa, includes a 24-inch super slim LED TV and over 100 satellite TV channels.
Bransfield-Garth said the partnership with Unilever “is fully aligned to both Azuri and Unilever’s mission to a triple bottom line of simultaneously delivering social, environmental and financial returns to customers and investors alike”.
And Justin Apsey, managing director for East Africa at Unilever, added that the partnership “will help deliver life-changing solar technology to off-grid communities and provide Unilever customers and traders with the benefits of modern energy. Solar power is proven to support the local and wider economy and further supports Unilever’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.