Our telecom network has supported our contribution to the development of connectivity in 18 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Following the success of Orange Money, which offers financial services to millions of people, here’s how Orange Energies uses digital technology to make electricity more accessible – and much more. We review its role, history, and impact with Joanne Stacy Eyango, Head of Corporate Relations and Communication for Orange Energies Africa & Middle East.
Our innovations and growing commitment to African communities have enabled us to diversify from a telecom operator to a multi-service player.
In Africa, digital is a common thread that makes a lot of services more accessible. Just providing a telephone network is not enough. That’s why we’re going much further to provide access to essential services and develop new uses.
Access to electricity and clean energy, two fundamental issues
“Many people take it for granted that they can come home from work and turn the lights on at the flip of a switch. Yet today, 600 million people in Africa are living without this luxury. For many rural areas, there is no guaranteed service for various reasons,” Joanne explains.
This forces households without direct access to electricity to spend 10 times more than households with electricity to make up for it, according to a World Bank study (2020). They’re also turning to more expensive and less eco-friendly alternatives for essential cooking, lighting, or air conditioning that could pose serious health risks. Candles, kerosene lamps, and diesel generators are just some of today’s main perpetrators.
Solar energy is viable in Africa throughout the year but while it is a cleaner energy source, the upfront equipment cost is high.
That’s why we’ve designed a range of services that enable everyone to switch to an energy solution that’s adapted to their needs and budget. Among them, our Solar Kit is the most popular.
Solar Kit: what is it and how does it work?
With a view to enabling off-grid electricity production, Orange Energies has joined forces with several partners to manufacture autonomous solar kits. Joanne explains how it works: “When a customer contacts Orange to express a need, a technician will go out to install a Solar Kit in their home. Depending on the required use, the kit includes a solar panel, battery, mobile (GSM) remote control, and accessories (bulbs, fan, radio, TV). Thanks to Orange Money, customers can pay small amounts every month for a period of 12, 24, or 36 months, depending on their subscription, after which they own the kit outright. There’s a two-year warrantee to guarantee the kit and cover any repairs.”
Joanne continues, “Our Orange Smart Energies (OSE) platform covers the entire system, to remotely manage the Solar Kit, pay via Orange Money, locate the kit for maintenance, or even carry out repairs.”
OSE, core to development
To understand the genesis of Orange Smart Energies (OSE), let’s go back to where it all began: Even to cover our own uses and operate telecom towers, we had trouble accessing a continuous energy source so had to use polluting generators. That’s why we developed various projects that enable us (along with Energy Service Company partners) to equip our own towers with solar systems while paying only for the electricity consumed by each tower over a defined period.
We offer a “pay as you go” subscription to our Solar Kits and remote management platform. What’s more, we resell surplus energy generated by our own solar farms to surrounding communities at an affordable price, which essentially converts our telecom equipment into mini grids, where consumption and payments can be controlled remotely via smart meters and OSE.
The Orange Smart Energies (OSE) digital platform is therefore central to the overall Orange Energies promise and is based on Orange Money’s service and our connectivity expertise.
Orange Energies: challenges and projects
“Through Orange Energies, we want to show and demonstrate that energy access can be a reliable source of income and accelerator of economic development for our beneficiaries,” says Joanne.
To this end, Orange Energies offers several Solar Kits to help people develop income-generating business activities. Concretely, this includes solar cooking stoves to reduce charcoal consumption and sell food, solar computers to carry out remote work, and solar freezers to sell cold drinks or preserve goods and food.
To boost business development, Orange Energies adapts to local customer needs in each market while staying true to its core DNA, which is to make it easier for people to access clean energy. “For example, in Morocco, where we already have very high rates of electricity access, we’re positioning ourselves around B2B offers, such as managing electrical charging points through our OSE platform,” explains Joanne.
Orange Energies aims to reach its first million connected homes by 2026. We’re also actively exploring ways to introduce new sources of green energy such as hydrogen and water.
11 countries covered
- 2017 : DRC
- 2018 : Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Guinea
- 2019 : Cameroon
- 2020 : Sierra Leone
- 2022 : Liberia, Central African Republic
+ 200 000 connected homes