At Mobile World Congress, Mastercard and M-KOPA announced a partnership that will provide Africans living without electricity a simple way to light up their homes and businesses.

M-KOPA, which already provides affordable, safe and clean energy to 3 million people in East Africa, will pilot Mastercard’s Quick Response (QR) payment technology in Uganda to extend the reach of its pioneering pay-as-you-go solar program.

Users will finance the purchase of a solar panel through solar technology company M-KOPA, before paying for daily energy which will cost approximately five cents per day by scanning a QR code on the panel itself. – Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president, commerce for every device, digital payments for Mastercard

In addition to its solar initiative, Mastercard is also expanding its work with mobile network operators, launching “a suite of digital payments and data” tool that will allow merchants to support everything from digital wallets to enabling “micro-merchants” to process digital payments.

The company is approving a “number of different partnerships” with mobile network operators in countries as Uganda and Tanzania.

Valle added that just 7% to  8% of the population in the rural areas of Uganda currently has reliable access to electricity and they’re so putting Mastercard in the center of it.

Following a successful pilot, Mastercard and M-KOPA plan to extend the program across East Africa. Mastercard will also work with mobile network operators to extend this model to other utilities like water and gas in developing markets across the world. This digital service innovation will open up new business opportunities for telecommunication companies and mobile network operators and evolve their business model beyond providing airtime and data services.