Econet reduces the price of its Home Power Station to $99

Nigel Gambanga Avatar

When Econet first entered the energy space, it introduced a number of solar powered products that included lamps, solar powered candles and the Home Power Station (HPS).

This HPS is a self-contained power unit that contained an Econet mobile SIM card linking the device to the cellular network and making it possible for the customer to pre-pay for energy usage.

While Econet Energy’s other products like the solar lamp have gone on to accompany other Econet related products as freebies, the HPS hasn’t been as prolific. One reason for this must have been the cost of the unit which, at its launch, was pegged at $200 for buyers using the prepaid system that offset the cost at 25 cents a day.

Now, Econet has lowered the price of the current model of the HPS from its current price of $163 to $99. That’s a significant¬†discount, and while I won’t be setting out to get my hands on the HPS (I’m relying on a stingy colleague’s recommendation instead), $64 off any item deserves some notice.

The unit that is currently available from Econet has a 12-volt battery capacity, a 6 light system with switches for each light, a solar panel which goes onto the roof and generates power for the batteries. The power lasts up to 7 hours when charged. The device also features a socket for charging your mobile phone or tablet.

We are all punished by power cuts, so the HPS has a clear place in modern Zimbabwe and the vision to light up the huge segment of Africa that is not on the grid couldn’t be any clearer. With this discount, Econet has an even better offer for a price sensitive market. However, questions about the profitability of Econet Energy come to mind here.

With lamps being given away and products like the HPS going through price slashes, it’s easy to assume that either Econet was raking in killer profits off these devices the first time, or is now trying, for reasons best known to the operator, to offload as many of these units as possible.

Is business that bad for Econet Solar and is this a fire sale? This can’t be a seasonal special. After all, winter, with all its power cuts is over and Christmas is still months away.

Details on the exact number of HPS units sold so far weren’t immediately available, even though the figure at the end of 2013 put it 2,000 homes using it in Zimbabwe.

The precise figures on the performance of all things relating to Econet Solar haven’t been displayed either, and it’s also hard to determine if the Econet Solar International target to have the HPS in 125,000 African homes by the end of 2014 was met.

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  1. cool

    nice staff , but cn u give more details about

    This HPS is a self-contained power unit that contained an Econet mobile SIM card linking the device to the cellular network and making it possible for the customer to pre-pay for energy usage.

    r u saying kyt econet charges for every wattage used?

    1. L.S.M Kabweza

      The Home Power Station is a device that contains a typical Econet mobile SIM card enabling the device to link up with the cellular network, making it possible for the customer to pre-pay for energy usage, in the same way mobile phone users currently pay for airtime on their cell phone. Connected to the unit are batteries, a 4 light system with 4 switches for each light, a solar panel which goes onto the roof and generates that power for the batteries. The device also features a socket for charging your mobile phone and compatible to the GSM network.

      1. Evans

        The question is what is exactly being pre-paid for here as we all know that solar is for free? kws used or equipment rental?

        1. nkosie

          u just read my mind evans who the hell sells sun energy thats like charging us for using oxygen

      2. Muzambwe Rolysom

        This HPS does it able to give current that raise a television

    2. tinm@n

      Yes. That same discomfort you have that “something is rotten about this” is experienced by everyone who was told about this “innovation”…. there is something rotten about it!

      But that’s not all. The “innovation” part of it is laughable…

      Guess what it also means….?

      It means on those “rare” days when you have no network coverage, you have no power.

      So even forgetting the idea that you are paying recurrent rates for solar energy (that no one owns), the idea that your power has a dependency on network coverage is quite absurd.

      For me and my people, we say let Econet be inspired to rip off OTHER PEOPLE.

  2. G

    are u saying the HPS is $99 but when i buy it i dont pay anything upfront but then pay off the device at $0.25 per day until paid of the device cost of $99. are there any other fees that accrue after paying of the device cost.

  3. macd chip

    The main reason why this is not selling is the charges they are putting. You have to buy the unit to begin with, then contineously being charged for it?

    I for one would have bought it if it was a one off payment because lm looking to buy one.

    Along Solomon Mazorodze they is a shop selling big solar panels for $150

    Then near Kopje there is another shop which specialises in batteries made for local weather starting at $80 for solar ones which comes with adapters.(l bought 2 batteries for car there and they are still going strong with 1yr warrant)

    What happens when this home power unit develops a fault, do they come with warrant?

    How long is one going to continue topping it up?

    What happens when there is no signal?

    Are they 3G or 2G?

    1. cool

      thats insane , U min I hv to buy the device first and then get charged for enegy use thereafter? God forbid , its a big no deal. Besides this thing only powers lights and charging devices via usb only, crap!!!

  4. tinm@n

    The most silliest and highly capitalist idea ever.

    When they first launched, we made our thoughts well-known and predicted its failure.

    It will not gain much traction and I would advise anyone who came to me not to buy such a thing.

    You are charged to purchase(at a nominal value). That’s fine.

    But paying rates, paywalled through a SIM card for solar power?!!


  5. Ushe

    Rubbish!!! A legislation should be put in place to fend off nonsence ideas like this!

    1. macd chip

      Nguruve inozvibika nemafuta ayo!

      In this case there is no need for any law since its not mandatory to buy it. Econet’s capitalist greedness is going to drill a gap in its financial profit books.

      Im truly looking for a power solution for my rural place and this is not one of them. I have already identified the solar water heaters.

      People will not buy such openly daylight robbery! Let this be a lesson for Masiwa and Co.

      1. Garikai Dzoma

        I am shocked at your comments. Obviously you do not have a gullible grandmother who is not well versed in technology. She gets this and she thinks it a good deal and she is locked in the contract and somehow you are treating the whole criminal behaviour in a nonchalant way?!

        1. Anonymous

          macd is right. Econet is not forcing anyone to buy it. They are also upfront about the costs. They are charging for using the batteries. This is perfectly legal and no legislation can be introduced without violating the constition

          1. Evans

            He is not right. Econet is a big company and many people will assume that they have ethics and morals which they don’t have. So something has to protect those unsuspecting ones.

        2. macd chip

          Garikai, the results are there to speak, people are not buying it.

          Most people in rurals survive on less than a dollar a week, even if gullible, where are they going to get cash to pay upfront??

          When you are holding a hammer, everything becomes a nail head!

  6. Tafadzwa Jengwa

    Why pay subscription for natural energy from the sun? This is insanity and theft in the same package

  7. Ndini

    I think a lot of information is missing here. My guess is that the cash cost of the unit is say $350.00 and to own it, you now pay $99 upfront with the balance being paid through the “prepayment arrangement…sim card… whatever mechanism being referred to”. So i think its like you are getting the system on credit with an initial outlay of $99 and then paying the balance as if you are buying airtime. If you don’t pay the balance, the unit cuts you off from using the electricity…hahaha

    1. Ndini

      just seeing an earlier techzim report available at
      explaining this in better detail than here!

  8. Tins

    Thats utter b*llsh*t. Won’t buy such crap. Econet gotta get a lyf

  9. jabbatings

    Lowering the price from $163 to $99 looks enticing but it actually spooks me even more. Hell! Even if it comes down to $20 I won’t part with my kobo. Remember that solar LED lamp with cellphone charger and all? I bought it but the gadget malfunctioned after a few days and I gave it away. Even the ‘lucky’ recipient tried his luck with it and trashed it. Why should I go through all that hustle just to power 4 lights. To say that gadget is a power station is misleading. No studies have been published highlighting the durability and reliability of that thing. (..and whoever came up with sim card integration is a master of fleecers, a swindler). Get back to the drawing board and come up with a unit which can fire up a TV, decorder, fridge, lights +/- hot plate at a reasonable price; carry out sufficient studies and you’ll see me at your doorstep (and remove that sim card system, unless I can make a call on that gadget!).

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