More than two-thirds of Africa’s population live without electricity, resulting in reduced economic growth by 2% to 4% annually. While Africa is undergoing growth and transformation, this growth needs to be fuelled and supported by massive investments in energy.
A look at the power demand in Africa
(Source: African Development Bank)
This is an opportunity for the social entrepreneur, who sees opportunities for profit, economic development and - most significant of all - social upliftment where others see obstacles.
According to The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), local entrepreneurs are essential for African countries to have access to electricity by 2030. Not only will such innovators literally light up the lives of millions, doing so will be economically competitive, unlock economies of scale and offer significant benefits in terms of equitable development, local job creation, energy security and environmental sustainability.
Thousands of these socially minded businessmen and women already help meet both urban and rural energy demands, but the following three are set on making a profound, positive difference.
Off Grid Electric
This Tanzanian-based company uses a low-cost, environmentally-friendly, pre-paid solar power system for lighting, cooking and mobile phone-charging needs. Last reported, Off Grid Electric supplied 35 000 solar-home systems in East Africa.
Based in Kenya, M-Kopa has connected 200 000 homes with solar systems that come with three lights, a mobile phone-charger and a radio. Its innovative business model means it takes only a year for customers to attain full ownership and access to free solar electricity.
The South African company offers LED-powered lights that provide about 20 hours of light. It also offers Nuru PowerCycle, which uses pedal power to recharge Nuru lights and mobile phones.
Though these energy entrepreneurs serve an integral need, accessing funding for such start-ups can be challenging, as new small ventures are seen as high risk to investors.
Standard Bank Group recognises the vital need for renewable energy and entrepreneurial businesses, to stimulate and stabilise Africa’s economies. We are active in renewable power projects, having financed numerous renewable energy initiatives that now deliver power to many African country’s grids.