5 African Cleantech Startups You Need To Watch

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5 African Cleantech Startups You Need To Watch

A woman uses a solar light from M-Kopa. Image: Georgina Goodwin/M-Kopa

Africa is extraordinarily rich in energy power potential. According to McKinsey and Company’s 2015 Brighter Africa report, the continent has 10 terawatts or more of potential capacity for renewable energy. If sub-Saharan Africa pushes renewables, it could result in 27 percent decrease in carbon emissions worldwide.

But sub-Saharan Africa is in an energy crisis. Two out of three Africans lack access to electricity — that’s 621 million people. The Brighter Africa report also stated the sub-Saharan Africa region has 13 percent of the world’s population, but 48 percent of the share of the global population without access to electricity.

African entrepreneurs and technologists are coming up with solutions to solve their own energy problems. In 2014, Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicted that 1.8 gigawatts of renewable energy would be commissioned. That’s a huge leap from the previous 14 years. And in the first quarter of 2015, Bloomberg reported, South Africa emerged as one of the top clean energy leaders.

Here’s a look at five African cleantech startups bringing power to the continent.

M-Kopa Solar

M-Kopa started a pay-as-you-go solar revolution in Africa by capitalizing on the popularity of mobile phones on the continent. Customers replace kerosene lamps with a solar light and radio/phone charging stations over several months in installments via SMS messaging on mobile money networks. The company was started by the founders of M-Pesa, Kenya’s incredibly popular mobile money system that has served as a model for the rest of the world.

Quaint Global Energy Solutions

This Nigerian company develops renewable power projects, and recently received a US Trade and Development Agency grant as part of Power Africa, a US government initiative. Quaint Global is working with California-based Tetra Tech, an energy project developer, on a feasibility study to determine the best way forward with the project. The effort will bring 50 megawatts of clean energy to Kaduna State, a state in Nigeria, and could also leverage more than $160 million.

Freedom Won

This South African company was founded in 2011 to grow Africa’s clean energy and electric vehicle solutions. The first electric vehicle prototype they developed was Freedom1, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and since then, they have built several more, mostly for safari drives for wildlife tourism.

More recently, Freedom Won created a wall-mounted Tesla Powerwall-like system called the FreedomCOR, which uses lithium-ion batteries to store renewable energy. The modular batteries range in size from 5 kilowatt hours to 30 kilowatt hours for residential, and even larger for industrial, and reportedly last up to 13 years.

African Clean Energy

According to this company, three billion people worldwide cook on open fires or with dirty, dangerous fuel, and accidents resulting from that kill four million people a year. To help solve this massive problem, African Clean Energy developed the ACE 1 Ultra-Clean Biomass Cookstove, which burns any type of biomass cleanly and smoke-free indoors or outdoors. It reduces fuel use about 70 percent, saves 50 percent of costs, and drastically improves the lives of women and children, who do the majority of the cooking.

iCoal Concept Ltd.

Earlier this year, the World Bank’s Kenya Climate Innovation Center launched a crowdfunding mentorship program for entrepreneurs in East Africa, to provide them financial services and mentorship. One of the startups chosen was iCoal Concept Ltd., which turns the waste from charcoal into modern energy. The company collects charcoal waste from the community and repurposes it into  charcoal-based briquettes that are 35 percent cheaper than regular charcoal.

Kenyan households use 700 tons of charcoal per day. But now that iCoal has a handle on the market, the startup is producing three tons of its own SmartCharcoal per day for hotels, farmers, and residential communities.

Source:Forbes.com Lyndsey Gilpin

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