In Africa, another electrification

Africa will have to jump a technological milestone “: it is the premise of Alexander Coster, the leader of the startup Baobab +, which believes that the continent must choose another way to expand access to electric energy. It defaults to half of africa’s population,” 620 million people, of which nearly 80 % in rural areas “according to the latest report of the Foundation Energies for the World, created by the former minister Jean-Louis Borloo.

→ ANALYSIS. On the trail of the reduction of fossil fuels

According to the report, the absence of a centralized network is” an opportunity to develop a lot of mini-networks “, a track which has already captured the private sector. An issue all the more important that the african continent could see its population double by 2050, by increasing its energy needs.

Enthusiasm for the ” pay-as-you-go “

We started in some regions and act now on the whole of Madagascar “, welcomes Guilla Lenna Venance, head of Baobab + in the island. Created in 2015, the company is offering, in partnership with operators of mobile bank (with Orange Money), the technology “pay as you go” (payment for use). It allows a buyer to acquire a solar kit that it unlocks according to his needs and ability to pay by buying credits of consumption. The system is definitely released when the payments have allowed for the reimbursement of the cost, after one to four years.

The purchase of the product leasing can, of course,” cost a little more expensive than the daily purchase of candles or oil, but in the end, the system belongs to the client, which becomes independent “puts it, Guilla Lenna Venance. The success was the appointment, since 40, 000 products were distributed in a “pay as you go” on the malagasy territory, in which the electricity grid is highly unreliable and where the electrification rate is only 15 %.

Also present in Mali, Senegal and Côte d’ivoire, Baobab + offers lighting systems, kits, water filtering and digital tablets,” an “educational” for literacy, and a “business” to support entrepreneurs in the daily management of their activities “, details Alexandre Coster.

Skip the step of the network star

“Africa could now skip a step in technology by developing directly on the electricity infrastructure low-carbon, decentralised and intelligent, whose the industrialized countries dream today “welcomed in a report released in 2018 another startup promoting solar energy, Nanoé, supported by the Fondation Veolia and the Ademe.

What she calls” the electrification side “and not to star, as has been done in the developed countries, with “gigantic electrical network designed to transmit and distribute the electricity produced by large units of production to the urban centres, the more dense and the rural areas to the most remotees “.

This pattern of african development is also what has been done with mobile telephony without having to install wired networks. Problem, it requires massive investments and a stability that is lacking in a number of States of the continent.

The authors express course reserves systems such as those distributed by Baobab +, in particular for the problems of recycling that will raise this mass of individual equipment. However, the report acknowledges, these” have already helped to improve the living conditions of millions of Africans “.


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