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Region: Africa

Africa cultivates energy-mix to address needs of 80% of population still living off-grid

Fenix International says solar energy to play vital role; shift of global headquarters to Uganda signals growing market demand in region


Kampala, Uganda, 8 April 2019: In Africa, 80% of the population still lives off-grid, said Morrison Rwakakamba, Global Senior Director of Policy, Fenix International, a company of Engie, to underscore the massive energy requirement across the continent, which houses over one billion people. This, he said, has prompted the governments in Africa to pursue an energy-mix. “Most African countries are signatories of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and are looking at universal access to electricity,” he pointed out. “That approach has been domesticated and ratified as part of the national governments’ plans and strategies, and been opened to the private sector through PPP.” In the next 20-50 years, he said, solar solutions will be a fundamental part of the region’s energy-mix, emphasising that “decentralised energy systems are the future”.

Rwakakamba said the expanding market base in Africa was one of the drivers that prompted the company to transfer the global headquarters from San Francisco, in the United States, to Uganda. “We wanted to be closer to our customers,” he said. “Our approach is to make sure people experience the life-changing products that Fenix delivers, and provide quick feedback to customers.”

Rwakakamba said the company is committed to helping Africa move through the energy ladder. Elaborating on this, Rwakakamba said, in tier one, people need light and a power source to charge their phones. Tier two, he said, requires more energy capacity that will allow for appliances, such as televisions or radios. The following tiers, he said, determine energy supply that can address refrigerators and air conditioners. Fenix, he said, is currently focused on making sure that Africa has round-the-clock access to light. Addressing tier-one requirements, he emphasised, will go a long way in transforming lives and empowering the economy, by allowing children to study throughout the night, supporting men and women operating small- and medium-sized business and powering telecommunications for people to have greater access to information. That said, Rwakakamba also pointed out that Africa is urbanising at a rate of 4.5% and that the growing number of urbanites with increasing purchasing power is also creating demand for higher-tier, solar-solution capacities in order to have more appliances, such as air conditioning and refrigerators.

Following the establishment of the new global headquarters in Uganda, Rwakakamba said that Fenix has delivered electricity to 800,000 people in 2018 alone and aims to connect 250,000 more households in 2019, which will benefit one million people. He also pointed out that the company aims to provide employment opportunities and facilitate training to many Ugandan engineering students. The company, he added, is determined to expand its presence throughout Africa through collaboration with government entities, as well as energy-sector stakeholders. Outlining countries that offer the most opportunity, he said that in addition to Uganda, Ethiopia is a growing market, owing to the sheer population of the country, as is Nigeria.

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