Wed, Jun 22, 2016
Two young Nigerian innovators are seeking to change the way locals access electricity by leasing solar kits to customers who only pay for energy generated and consumed. That is innovation at its best.
Innovators are never short of ideas and sometimes these ideas are as startling as they are inventive.
In Nigeria, the problem of electricity is widely spread and known to locals whose businesses have either collapsed or declined due to chronic power outages.
Despite a connection rate of 96 percent and about 90 percent of access to the national grid, only 18 percent of the working connections is reliable, leading to slow development efforts in Africa’s largest economy.
Due to these challenges Nigerians have been forced to generate their own electricity for their homes and businesses using expensive oil-powered generators, and with the recent oil shortages, the problem cannot get any worse.
Then comes in two young Nigerian innovators, Femi Adeyemo, and Kunle Odebunmi, who are promising to make power challenges in the country and possibly Africa, a thing of the past.
The two, using Arnergy, a revolutionary Pay-As-You-Go solar energy solutions company, are breaking the frontiers in the renewable energy sector through an inventive way which will allow millions of Nigerians and Africans rent uninterrupted electricity and pay for the energy consumed daily or monthly.
The invention will allow customers to buy recharge pins using RANA™ (Arnergy's Mobile Electricity app) or via an agent in several rural communities without a mobile network. Using cloud-based server infrastructure, Arnergy can lock or unlock solar power systems depending on the payment schedule or lack of it by a customer using the solar kit.
Although alternative energy such as solar power has been introduced and widely adopted in East Africa, Nigerians still lag behind when it comes to the use of renewable energy. There are two major reasons why its adoption is yet to gain ground in the country: “There is a perceived risk that solar power ‘does not work’ as many have doubted the efficacy of the technology,” Adeyemo, CEO of Arnergy says. “This, alongside the high cost, has typically made it a less attractive option for most Nigerians.”
Started in 2014, Arnergy has since changed its strategy, opting to rent out its kits to the customers rather than selling them. Dubbed “solar rental system”, the strategy allows customers in urban areas to lease solar equipment and pay a fixed price, $30 per month, for the electricity generated and consumed.
According to Adeyemo, this helps “resolve the problem of high upfront costs.” This way, the founders hope to attract more Nigerians to adopt the use of solar energy.
Now, business people and homeowners who have suffered the epileptic power supply can enjoy reliable electricity at minimal costs without the risk of outages or fluctuation of fuel prices. Arnergy 500, one of ARNERGY's line of innovative solar rental product, can power a variety of machines including lighting, television, standing fan, ceiling fan, laptop, printer, barber’s clipper, satellite decoder, among others.
With a successful reception in urban centers, Arnergy wants to expand its reach to the rural areas where electricity connection is minimal. Luckily, the novel company has received a backing from Nigeria’s Bank of Industry. Already, the firm has set out solar mini-grids in three previously off-grid villages in Nigeria. The villagers have been connected and are paying about $10 a month for enough electricity to power LED light bulbs, a television, and fan as well as charge mobile phones daily.
With such good reception both in the rural areas and urban centers, Odebunmi says the company plans to replicate the model which is being used by 600 homes in the three villages, across the country.
But the demands from locals are exceeding their targets and the two innovators are seeking more capital to hasten growth. While everything seems to be working well, the duo says that their main challenge is that “most venture capital firms in Nigeria currently prefer to invest in tech start-ups.”
Image credit: Anergy via lindaikejisblog.com
Kajuju Murori is an enthusiastic writer with a bias towards development stories that ignite positive change among individuals in the society.
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