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Shell-Backed Solar Company Bets on Phone Banking for Africa

M-KOPA Kenya Ltd., backed by a Royal Dutch Shell Plc-funded charity, sees sales of its solar-lighting system that allows users to pay by phone surging 13-fold as mobile operators roll out banking services in Africa.

The system, a panel powering lights and a phone charger, links to mobile banking services to allow customers to pay 40 Kenyan shillings (46 cents) a day to use it, M-KOPA says. The company plans to boost clients in Kenya to 100,000 from about 7,500 now, and expand abroad in future, Managing Director Jesse Moore said.