Mobile Power

Mobile Power has developed a battery pack rental system with an integrated security system, which is affordable to the Base-of-Pyramid market, while providing energy in the home for charging mobile phones and running bright LED lights. The system consists of battery packs which are rented out for ~$0.23 per day from local shops, following one-time registration and payment of a $2 deposit.

The system provides a return on investment in under 18 months, allowing rapid, self-funded expansion.

At a Glance

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About This Innovation

Innovation Stats

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How does your innovation work?

Our system uses a pay-per-charge rental model to supply portable battery packs at a price affordable to Base-of-Pyramid households. Each pack has three USB ports (2x USB-A, 1x USB-C) that can be used to charge multiple mobile phones and to run bright LED lights, plus other accessories such as radios.

Packs are charged centrally at a local solar charging station and from there are distributed to local shops by Mobile Power's agents. Customers rent the battery packs directly from the shop, making use of existing infrastructure and reducing the need for additional travel. Each shopkeeper is issued with an "Activator" which contains a screen, keyboard, RFID reader and modem, and which can activate the battery packs, ready for use. Shopkeepers purchase credit from Mobile Power's agents, or remotely using mobile payments, and can then use this credit to activate the battery packs once they receive payment from customers.

After the rental period is complete - typically one or two days - or once depleted, the pack is returned to a participating shop and swapped for a fully charged pack for approximately $0.23 USD.

Central to the model is a cheap yet effective security system which ensures the battery packs are of minimal value outside of the system as they cannot be charged or discharged outside of Mobile Power's infrastructure, thereby reducing the risk associated with a rental model. When combined with the low capital cost, this allows a very low rental price to be achieved while also providing a rapid return on investment.

The result is a clean energy solution for use in the home the requires a deposit of $2, and running costs of just $0.23 per day, per household.

What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?

We have been running trials in The Gambia using off-the-shelf hardware for three years, to collect data on demand, price points, hardware requirements and peripherals from all stakeholders (users, shopkeepers and agents).

The learnings from this trial have fed into the design of our platform which includes the smart battery packs, the Activators that are distributed to shopkeepers in the scheme, the Charge Modules that recharge the battery packs, and the MP2 managent platform that gives each stakeholder the ability to monitor their Mobile Power world.

Next Steps

Early 2016 will see large scale field trials of the latest itteration of the hardware and software platform to prove field-readiness.