Discover our Top 5 of the best African start-ups in the energy sector. Alongside those who had already attracted attention and confirmed this year the hopes put in them, ambitious new projects were revealed.
Oxygen Private Energy Ltd
Oxygen Energy Private Ltd is an independent power producer of a special kind. From its origins to renewable energies, the Zimbabwean start-up has specialized in industrial-scale plants, as well as on the use of roofs for the production of solar energy. In Africa, this path is particularly promising, given the sunshine rates. Considered as one of the 100 most influential young Africans in the Africa Youth Awards in 2016, Simbarashe Mhuriro also convinced the African Renewable Energy Fund, a department of the African Development Bank. The founder of Oxygen Energy Private Ltd received a grant of 780,000 euros. It is used to finance the installation of a 20 MW solar plant on the roofs of buildings in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.
Created in 2015, the Togolese start-up Kya-Energy Group offers a decentralized system of electricity supply. The principle is based on the use of small autonomous groups, able to produce power according to the needs of the users. This type of equipment is especially intended for millions of African households outside the grid, but also for all those who wish to be autonomous from an energy point of view. “We were inspired by the mobile phone model to design a system that we call autonomous electro-solar group. Mobile, it is halfway between conventional solar kits and mini-power plants, which are still expensive, “said Yao Azoumah, founder of Kya-Energy Group. His idea has caught the eye of several investors, and recently won the BOAD Award for Best Innovative Project in the field of renewable energy.
Okey Esse is the creator of Powerstove, a wood stove that optimizes fuel consumption. A solution that reduces spending, but also greenhouse gas emissions. “Powerstove is the world’s first portable and stand-alone stove that also generates electricity and saves 70% of biomass. We can use coal, wood, twigs, or pellets, depending on availability, “said Okey Esse. “A system with 85 jets of air scattered in the combustion chamber allows the ideal amount of oxygen to be injected directly into the fire. This allows optimal combustion. The icing on the cake is that the excess energy produced during the cooking time is recovered and turned into off-grid electricity. By 2020, one million Africans could gain access to electricity. What Powerstove many prizes, including the Start-up Energy of the Year at the Africa 2018 Awards.
Easy Solar: electricity for everyone
Founded by Nthabiseng Mosia, Easy Solar aims to provide off-grid homes with clean, cheap electricity. The South African start-up offers fully autonomous solar-powered appliances that meet the relatively small needs of isolated populations. Rented according to the logic of “pay as you go” – that is to say according to the use that one makes of it -, this material can then be bought by the customer. Easy Solar employees ensure the proper functioning of the devices, and intervene in case of failure. Easy Solar has already deployed to Sierra Leone, where more than 87% of the population lives without electricity. Since 2016, over 40,000 people have been supplied with off-grid electricity. Easy Solar is now planning to expand to other West African countries.
Like thousands of his compatriots, Jean Bosco Nzeyimana grew up in a Rwandan village that had no access to electricity, gas or oil. The main fuel used was wood, collected in the forest. A huge source of supply, but with major drawbacks during the rainy season. The young man then has the idea of turning waste into energy. In so doing, it regulated not only the problem of wood moisture, but also that of the renewable dimension of the resource. Jean Bosco Nzeyimana now runs a company that produces biomass briquettes and biogas. If biodegradable waste is converted into biogas and compost, the others – especially non-recyclable plastics – are compacted and converted into briquettes, replacing traditional charcoal. Jean Bosco Nzeyimana has emerged as one of the great hopes of Rwanda and Africa. That’s how he was able to talk with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, and even with Barack Obama, the former US president.