This Startup is Solving Africa’s Energy Problem
In 2021, 597 million people in sub-Saharan Africa did not have access to electricity. This means around five out of every ten individuals below the Sahara live in the dark. In rural areas, this number is even worse with 70% of the population not having access to electricity. Without access to electricity, children are not able to complete work. Businesspeople are not able to effectively browse information on markets and communicate with each other. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how limited access to energy has hindered hospital and emergency services, further endangering patients and ruining expensive medicine. As the country has recovered from the pandemic, it is a critical time to provide energy to the African public in order to promote economic development, socio-economic inclusion, and increase human capital growth.
The lack of traditional energy infrastructure has led to many businesses and villages looking for alternate sources. Luckily, Africa has abundant hydro, solar, wind, and bioenergy resources. The company Fenix International has taken advantage of this abundance and has developed off grid solar panels and batteries that are available for customers to lease for as little as 35 cents a day. The company offers solar home systems for customers that do not have access to electricity. Fenix International is mainly established in Uganda where it has over 140,000 customers and has recently expanded into Zambia. This company has received a large amount of attention due to its much cheaper cost compared to that of obtaining electricity the traditional way. This initiative by Fenix was noticed by multinational utilities giant Engie. The company was 100% acquired by Engie due to their shared goal of making access to energy universal. By joining forces with ENGIE, one of the world’s largest independent utility companies they will significantly accelerate the path to this goal.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. To date, Fenix has delivered solar power to roughly 900,000 people in Africa. But there are still another 596 million without power and energy. I urge investors and venture funds that seek to solve world problems to start to invest in African clean energy companies. We have seen extreme saturation in the American market for clean energy with the presence of giants such as Tesla and GE promoting solar power and the multitude of other companies with various clean energy solutions. But Africa has just begun to utilize its vast amount of clean energy resources and put them into use. By investing into various clean energy companies at such an early stage, investors will be able to grow their investments exponentially. In the comfort of our homes, we have access to energy around the clock and we use it almost every second of our lives. It is time to make this privilege universal and share the benefits of access to energy with everyone. This is a problem that has existed in Africa for decades and will not change without the help of investors seeking to leave a lasting impact on the world.