‘The potential is big,’ says green energy entrepreneur

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What inspired you to start Illumination East Africa?

The idea of Illumination came after a lot of thought on how I can assist the poor to access some of the important services that they don’t have or they can’t access. Clean and safe water and clean energy for lighting and cooking are the things which affect women and children in most African countries.

In my developmental work I have used 70% of my working time working around the energy issues, including environmental issues. Now I think it is my time to get more advanced and act rather than [sitting] with wishful thoughts that have no impact. I thought of having a simple, cheap, good quality solution for low income people. As I said, I am always thinking of new ideas and opportunities. My experience from developmental work in different parts of Tanzania made me curious of doing something extra. Seeing people living without light, with no access to clean and safe water, having several cases of fire accidents, seeing school children ending up having low performance in school – it was disturbing me and I decided to go into a business that would have a social impact on these people.

After Tanzania, which countries are you interested in expanding to?

The next countries are Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. Firstly, because they are in East Africa and share similar problems when it comes to most of the social services issues. Secondly, most of these countries speak the same language, hence it is easier to penetrate and be understood by the client. When I go to these countries I don’t need to change the promotion materials, I just use the same ones in Swahili/English.

What role do you believe green energy will hold on the continent in the next 20 years?

Renewable energy in Africa is a huge opportunity to allow for a better standard of living for a large part of current and future populations in Africa. The high share of rural populations is coupled with the low ability to pay for the cost of electricity hence pushing them to use traditional locally available energy sources, mostly biomass from agriculture residues and forest and savannah wood for their daily cooking and heating needs. In the next 20 years we are looking at green energy in two aspects:

– use of renewables to build power infrastructure and secondly,
– use of renewables to increase access to modern energy services.

Source: How We Made it in Africa (link opens in a new window)

Energy, Environment