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ICT4D Week 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Lumos, a handy mobile electricity solution - ITREALMS

MondayFeatures@ITREALMS:

 Looking at how Nigerians can still enjoy power sustainably in spite of state huge spending on electricity and unending privatization, REMMY NWEKE reports there is a solution in your hands via a mobile phone.

Preamble:
Penultimate month, there was no public electricity power supply throughout the weekend at an apartment around Aboyomi Street, Mafoluku-Oshodi, Lagos. On return from mass on Sunday, Mr. Thomas popularly known in the neighbourhood as Mr. Tee, told himself it's time for a decision to be taken to look for alternative power supply after using and burning the generating set over the weekend nonstop.

This alternative must be something sustainably green compliant and what came to mind was solar power. Yes, talking about sustainable and clean energy has to do with goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the United Nations (UN), "Ensuring universal access to affordable electricity by 2030 means investing in clean energy sources such as solar, wind and thermal. While adopting cost-effective standards for a wider range of technologies could also reduce the cost associated to available and affordable energy for all.”

Progress Report on goal 7:

The UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres in his May 2017 report on the 'Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals' on item 7E/ E/2017/66 to the Economic and Social Council, noted that progress in every area of sustainable energy falls short of what is needed to achieve energy access for all and to meet targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Meaningful improvements will require higher levels of financing and bolder policy commitments, together with the willingness of countries to embrace new technologies on a much wider scale.

· Globally, 85.3 per cent of the population had access to electricity in 2014, an increase of only 0.3 percentage points since 2012. That means that 1.06 billion people, predominantly rural dwellers, still function without electricity. Half of those people live in sub-Saharan Africa.

· Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking climbed to 57.4 per cent in 2014, up slightly from 56.5 per cent in 2012. More than 3 billion people, the majority of them in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, are still cooking without clean fuels and more efficient technologies.

· The share of renewable energy in final energy consumption grew modestly from 2012 to 2014, from 17.9 per cent to 18.3 per cent. Most of the increase was from renewable electricity from water, solar and wind power. Solar and wind power still make up a relatively minor share of energy consumption, despite their rapid growth in recent years. The challenge is to increase the share of renewable energy in the heat and transport sectors, which together account for 80 per cent of global energy consumption.

·From 2012 to 2014, three quarters of the world’s 20 largest energy-consuming countries had reduced their energy intensity — the ratio of energy used per unit of GDP. The reduction was driven mainly by greater efficiencies in the industry and transport sectors. However, that progress is still not sufficient to meet the target of doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

Lumos Mobile Electricity as handy solution:

Inquiries were made by Mr Tee, throughout Monday and by evening it was evident that Lumos Mobile Electricity powered by MTN Nigeria Communications, otherwise called MTN Yellow Box; comes handy especially in terms of fiscal availability, acquisition affordability and maintenance.

Commercially, Lumos Mobile Electricity made its debut in Nigeria in February 2017 and looking deeper, 
ITREALMS gathered from Mr Tee that the MTN Yellow box afforded him access to electricity whenever he needs it, which, he said has made life a little more comfortable, because it's accessible, safe, and reliable as long as there is a bit of sunshine.

"Lumos lights up rooms, charge my mobile phones and power appliances such as rechargeable fans, LED TVs, laptops, and tablets all day long for the duration of choice per month," he declared.

As said by him, “I can afford now to power both Direct Current (DC) from the solar, which is compatible with appliances and Alternative Current (AC) compatible appliances with this Lumos Mobile Electricity system, namely with DC having up to 100 Wax (accumulative) and 12 Voltage.

On the other hand, the AC compatible appliances that you already have at home, up to 60W (accumulative) and 220 Volts. Conversely, MTN says the system cannot support, air conditioners, deep freezers, refrigerators, electric cookers, washing machines, AC ceiling fans to name a few.

How to join the service:

Grace, a sales lady at MTN Okota, explained to ITREALMS that to join the service entails interested party visiting the nearest MTN store or by going online to linkup with the stores.

At the local nearby stores, she explained that customers need to sign up and when joining the service, customers must visit with an active MTN SIM card registered in the individual subscriber’s name, a valid identity card and the names or details of two (2) willing guarantors.

Cash payment was made by Mr. Tee which has one month bonus attached, and a one-time set-up fee, just as he gathered that the one month subscription fee has to be activated via customer’s mobile phone. Of course, there are different subscription plans to choose from to credit own system.

This, ITREALMS also gathered would entail a professional and authorized installer coming to the house to complete the process, via customer’s mobile phone.

According to Engr. Owolabi, the Lumos Installer professional assigned to Mr. Tee, the pack of secured solar power station is a clean, quiet and sustainable way of converting sunlight to electrical energy, hence energy is stored in a Lithium battery to provide continuous supply of electricity to power two (2) Light-Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs, a variety of 12 voltage on Direct Current (DC) appliances and for charging cell phone, among others.

The ‘Yellow Box’ power station, he explained, comprised of two units made up of solar panel unit (SPU) and Solar Control Indoor Unit (SCU). Whereas SPU collects the sunlight energy and converts same to electrical power, the SCU supplies the electrical power to the connected appliances, in addition to some mounting kit for securing the solar panel unit onto a roof or any other flat surface.

Saving Lots of Money:

The mobile electricity service, ITREALMS reports, saves customer lots of money on their monthly electricity bills. Ms Grace equally advised customers to choose a suitable subscription plan from their plan options and make convenient payments from their MTN mobile phone.

“SMS should be sent using the MTN phone number registered to your Yello box. SMS must be received before your friend joins our service. Refer only one phone number per SMS,” she declared.

Lessons for new users:

For Mr. Tee, one of the key lessons learnt in over a month of using Lumos Mobile Electricity is that when the ‘yellow’ display button is ‘on’ it means the power is switched off and when the ‘off’ is displayed, the light will be on for use.

Although there was a little teething problems of charging below expectations, but with an electronic mail (email) sent to the customer care, he received a call from 180, which monitored the progress of the device by offering instructions and directions on what should be done, until it was satisfactorily endorsed as optimal by Mr. Tee.

Conclusion:

Advantages of solar power like Lumos, ITREALMS reports is that its pollution free and causes no greenhouse gases to be emitted after installation; reduced dependence on fuel for generating set and fossil fuels. Renewable clean power that is available every day of the year, even cloudy day produces some power to sustain a small business like that of Mr. Tee, which requires internet access with a laptop.

For him, the noise of generating set has reduced drastically, while he had saved spending an average of N1000 per day on fuel, due to lack of power supply from Ikeja Electric and when added up in a month means N20,000.00, at the least.

Experts at GreenMatch.com explained that among all the benefits of solar panels, the most important thing remains that solar energy is a truly renewable energy source with low maintenance costs despite that its weather dependent and helps in sustaining employment.
And for ITREALMS, this is the kind of solution that Nigerian banks should invest in to stimulate economic productivity, growth and reduce unemployment eventually for a given section of the small businesses, having in mind that small rivers make an ocean.

Mr. Tee, agrees the advantages are enormous for small business owners or operators in a developing economy like Nigeria. In fact he was already thinking of extending same Yellow box electricity magic to his parents in Anambra State, sometime soon.
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Pix: Power Minister, Tunde Fashola, Lumos and UN Sec-Gen António Guterres @ITREALMS

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