Solar Powered Startup Provides Protection Against Lion Attacks

solar lighting in africa

How do you stop a lion from attacking your farm animals? If this isn’t a problem you encounter often, then you probably weren’t aware that bright lights help keep the predatory animals away at night. But it is a problem for farmers in rural Africa – and so is getting electricity to their homes.

Until recently, one of the only solutions to this problem was to use old-fashioned kerosene lamps. These lamps use expensive fossil fuel and emit poisonous fumes when burned.

But now there’s a company working on a better, greener solution. M-KOPA Solar is a company based in Nairobi, Kenya that’s backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The company offers a portable solar powered lighting system that it says can ward off lions at night.

M-KOPA offers a pay-as-you-go system for customers. So instead of buying the lighting system, which would be much too expensive for most households that need this technology, they make daily payments to use it. The system costs the equivalent of about 45 US cents per day to use, along with an initial deposit.

solar lighting in africa

But that’s still a big investment for a lot of people who would like to use the lighting system. Kim Lachance Shandrow of Entrepreneur put the cost in perspective:

“M-KOPA customers pay 40 Kenyan shillings (about 45 cents) per day to use it, after making a 2,500-shilling ($28.38) deposit. That’s relatively steep, considering that most households in Kenya earn less than $2 per day, according to M-KOPA.”

Payments are processed using an embedded mobile SIM card. So if a customer falls behind, M-KOPA can use the SIM card to turn out the lights remotely.

Right now, only a select few who can afford it are able to get the benefits of these solar powered lights. So in order for the M-KOPA lighting system to be widely adopted in East Africa, the company will have to find a way to bring the price down.

But it’s a good first step in introducing a more innovative way of solving a problem. Solar powered technology is still a relatively new field and people are coming up with new uses for it all the time.

Warding off lions is probably not the first application that comes to mind when you think about solar power. But someone did think of it – and now they’re finding a way to benefit a community that really needs it.

Images: M-KOPA Solar


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

5 Reactions
  1. An invention that wards off lion attacks. How cool is that?

  2. Being Kenyan, I obviously get it. 45 cents which would be considered peanuts in other parts of the world is rather steep in this other side. Thank you Annie for bringing this to light…literary!

    • Hopefully they can find a way to supplement the cost and make it more affordable for the people who need it. But I think it is a great idea in general.