Sun King, the largest off-grid energy company in Africa and Asia, has today announced the acquisition of PayGo Energy, a leading pay-as-you-go tech startup for clean cooking. This acquisition addresses the problem of the three billion people who depend on open wood fires and charcoal stoves to cook food, leading to health issues, deforestation, and carbon emissions. By developing products and services that allow families to transition from wood and charcoal cookstoves to safer, modern appliances that better protect people and the planet, Sun King seeks to make clean cooking more accessible and affordable for African and Asian customers.
Leveraging its experience of delivering solar energy products to 95 million underserved consumers in Africa and Asia, the company will take a technology-agnostic approach to developing products and services that allow families to transition from wood and charcoal cookstoves to safer, modern appliances that better protect people and the planet.
Furthermore, Sun King’s new Clean Cooking Team is working on a range of clean cooking products and services to help families transition from wood and charcoal-based cooking to clean safe, and more environmentally friendly alternatives. This includes a technology-agnostic approach to developing products and services that allow customers to choose from various energy sources, such as solar energy, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), electrical grids, and other energy sources. Sun King’s team is also developing pay-as-you-go consumer financing services to break down financial barriers to purchasing modern cooking equipment.
Also, PayGo Energy’s team of 40 employees in Nairobi is moving to Sun King’s office less than a mile down the road, now expanded to include a lab and workspace for Sun King’s new Clean Cooking Team.
The Problems that Sun King’s Clean Cooking Goal is Addressing
The benefits of switching to clean cooking are substantial and diverse, ranging from reductions in carbon emissions and unsustainable deforestation to improved health and gender outcomes. Cooking with wood and charcoal is a major contributor to global warming, accounting for approximately 2% of global carbon emissions. Demand for wood and charcoal drives deforestation and destroys biodiversity, while the smoke and respiratory disease from these fuels are leading causes of early death in Africa and Asia, disproportionately impacting women who are more exposed to the fumes. Women also bear the time burden of collecting wood and tending fires. Additionally, wood and charcoal costs are exorbitantly expensive, consuming upwards of one-quarter of many African households’ income.
PayGo Energy’s team brings a wealth of experience in pioneering finance, technology, and distribution solutions to clean cooking challenges. PayGo Energy has developed smart meters to monitor LPG consumption and predict when gas cylinders will run empty in areas without electricity or piped gas. This technology allows customers to pay incrementally for fuel, as they would for charcoal or wood and enables proactive replacement of customers’ gas cylinders before they run out of fuel. The company is also experimenting with pay-as-you-go electric cooking appliances, such as electric pressure cookers, for households with access to electricity.
Sun King for Clean Cooking
Sun King’s and PayGo Energy’s expertise will be combined to develop a range of cooking products powered by different energy sources, paired with consumer financing services that allow African and Asian customers to pay for energy and equipment in small, affordable installments. The PayGo Energy team is moving to Sun King’s office less than a mile down the road, now expanded to include a lab and workspace for Sun King’s new Clean Cooking Team.
Commenting on the deal, the company’s Co-Founder and CEO, T. Patrick Walsh, who recently led Sun King to a mouth watery $330 million Series-D funding round raised to rapidly expand its pay-as-you-go solar product line and distribution network, introducing a more powerful off-grid-solar technology and expanding its presence to additional African countries, said: “By merging PayGo’s clean cooking product and software expertise with Sun King’s hardware and manufacturing know-how and our proven distribution channels, underpinned by Sun King’s 23,000 field agents, we hope to deliver modern, affordable cooking appliances and energy to families living across Africa and Asia.”
While, Nick Quintong, CEO of PayGo Energy and now head of Sun King’s Clean Cooking Team on his part said “Swapping wood-based cooking fuel for practically any modern alternative — whether it be biogas, electricity, ethanol, LPG or solar — dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions, protects families’ respiratory health and preserves forests and biodiversity. We need to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to phase out non-renewable wood fuel in domestic cooking.”