The parent company of Tanzania’s largest solar company M- POWER known as OFF Grid Electric has unveiled a new consumer brand and opened its first retail shop in a bid to provide customers with reliable and affordable solar energy for both home and industrial consumption.

The company has also changed its consumer brand name from M- POWER to Zola even as it seeks to deepen connectivity of more Tanzanians to off grid electricity.

“The new name better expresses both the company’s East African roots and transformational character. Zola is an adaptation to the Swahili word “sola” (solar) and will serve as the brand of the company’s operations in Rwanda and Tanzania.

“With our expansion continent-wide and our introduction of short-term ownership, we needed a brand that worked across geographies and represented the transformation of our customers’ lives,” said Off Grid Electric Co-founder Erica Mackey, noting that; “We built Zola to be the first pan-African mass market solar brand.

” The Zola brand was officially introduced last weekend through the launch of Zola Shops, Off Grid Electric’s first pop-up retail locations open in Rwanda and Tanzania in July and September.

Speaking at the launch event, the Zola Head of Channel Partnerships Godfrey Kakembo said, “Zola Shops will allow customers to demo equipment, sign up for in-home installation, and give the gift of modern energy to family members living in remote villages.”

Zola Shops will offer upfront purchases and leases will be available in-store. Customer service representatives will be on hand to answer questions and help customers upgrade their current systems.

The opening of the shops comes on the heels of the launch of Off Grid Electric’s line of solar appliances for rural entrepreneurs, announced last month at President Barrack Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit in Palo Alto, California.

Called Kazi na Zola (“Work with Zola” in Swahili), the “business in a box” solution is designed to give self-starters in Rwanda and Tanzania the tools they need to run a business — whether a barbershop, charging shop, bar, or restaurant – completely on solar.