Hong Kong and Oslo (31 October 2018) – ARE Member Plug The Sun (belonging to Maccaferri Group), the joint venture off-grid company between Enerray and Fast Power, and Naefos, an Oslo-based fintech startup with an award-winning middleware platform, today announced a strategic partnership to provide affordable, clean and decentralized solar power to two million households in emerging markets. The first market entry will take place in Myanmar in Q1 2019.

Many governments currently do not have the resources to offer everyone grid power and most governments are not able to provide access to grid power within the next decade. In fact, roughly 1.1 billion people globally have no access to a power grid.

Myanmar’s per capita energy consumption is one of the lowest globally. Contributing factors include low income and low electrification rate. Even where power is attainable, it may be unreliable, particularly for households at the fast growing city outskirts or in areas where there is too little power generation. Furthermore, power grids cannot withstand the fast-growing pace of their users.

But what has long been decried as a major obstacle to most development is now viewed as the perfect opportunity for technology entrepreneurs such as Mark Kriek, CEO of Naefos. As he explains, “Naefos fintech-IoT platform integrated into Plug the Sun’s Solar Home Systems connects households to reliable off-grid power, providing internet and digital services through the pay-as-you-go model. Because it is a blockchain-based, decentralized and affordable solution, we are able to cross the chasm for developing countries and local housing developers seeking workable power solutions for their communities.”

Thanks to Plug the Sun’s well-established reputation in the region and decentralized solar energy storage systems, the partnership was a natural one.

The solution not only enables power consumption from a solar panel linked to a battery that supports power sockets and a mobile phone adapter, but homes can instantly be transformed into WiFi hotspots enabling Energy- and Internet-as-a-Service business models.

“Plug the Sun has a wide range of solar home systems where Naefos’ technology can be embedded and adapted to the specific needs of different areas and users. This partnership allows us to reach new customers thanks to cross sector synergies and build long term relationships with both end users and stakeholders while understanding them better through Big Data analysis,” Walter Marin, Founder and CEO, Plug the Sun.

As tech giants including Google and Facebook encourage off-grid solar power startups to pour into developing countries, the race to claim tens of millions of customers who lack reliable access to electricity and internet has begun.

With the Plug the Sun and Naefos partnership, users can access not only clean power, but also more economic opportunities, educational and other content, not to mention e-government and e-health services. Simultaneously, end users build up a digital credit history, giving them newfound access to financial services.