Simon Bransfeild-Garth is the Chief Executive Officer of Azuri Technology Limited, a world economic forum technology pioneer, known for delivering pay-as-you-go solar power to rural communities in Nigeria. In this interview with Newsbreak.ng, Bransfeild-Garth said Nigeria is a ready market for solar energy.
What are the major challenges of solar energy in Nigeria?
Today, solar penetration in Nigeria is timing. If you look at East Africa, it is becoming much larger. These are the countries that have more than ten percent of household with solar power and the number is growing quite fast. We think Nigeria is a big market but hasn’t been really served until now and the time is now.
Azuri is providing solar home systems across sub-Saharan Africa, we are enabling households that either don’t have the grid at all or have very intermittent grid to be able to have normal household devices like 32 inch television, a radio, and the ability to charge phones, and have lights in the house all this using solar power.
The standard problem with solar power is that you have to buy a piece of equipment upfront and this is very expensive. So what Azuri does is to provide solar on what we call pay as you go, where we put the equipment in your house for a small amount and then users pay a small fee every week in to use the system. People will benefit more because they don’t have to purchase the equipment with a large amount of money, they pay for the equipment for two and half years then the system becomes theirs.
READ ALSO: DSS Wanted To Deny Court Invasion Until Judge Revealed CCTV Recorded Them – Falana
Do you think Nigeria is ready for solar deployment?
Interestingly, solar power has really taken off in East Africa and historically, Nigeria have been slower to adopt solar power than East Africa. We really think that Nigeria is ripe on the edge of adopting solar power in a really big way.
What role will solar play in Nigeria economic development?
I think solar has a really exciting potential within Nigeria, we all know that Nigeria has challenges with power. So there are roughly 50% of households that don’t have power and those households that have power only have for certain period during the day. The only thing to rely on is the sun. The sun is going to come on everyday, there is no question whether that is going to happen. So solar power enables people to have electricity every single day and it is absolutely guaranteed. Now there is some devices that solar power can’t power, it is difficult to use solar to power a kettle or an iron, but there are many devices that solar can power; devices like TV, radio, lightings, fridges, etc such devices people use on a daily basis they can be powered by solar. So we can use solar as that mechanism that sits alongside with electricity and enables one to get free access to power.
How do you come about the pay-as-you-go system?
Pay-as-you-go essentially took the idea of mobile phones technology. So, if you remember the early days of mobile phones, then, very few people could afford it, so mobile carriers came up with the idea of pay as you go which enables people to access mobile phones nowadays, that was really what made mobile phones become a mass market product that everybody has. Solar is essentially the same thing. But people still spend a lot of money on the alternative to solar power, whether it is petrol in your gen, or kerosene in your lights, candle, whatever it may be, people are spending a great deal of money. So what we are able to do is to offer solar power for a lesser cost. So in Nigeria we are able to offer a TV and a fan for less than the cost that people are spending on petrol. So as far as the customers are concerned, it is cheaper using the system.
READ ALSO: Only ‘100,000 Minority’ Nigerians Bothered About Sowore’s Rearrest – Presidency
Do you think low income earners will accept this pay-as-you-go considering the level of poverty?
Pay-as-you-go is found in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Togo, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana, and many more. Nigeria historically has not heard pay-as-you-go that is partly because mobile money technology has not taken off in Nigeria which is not the case in other countries. But we think Nigeria is absolutely ripe now to be able to adopt pay-as-you-go.
What has been your experience in Nigeria?
Our experience has been great, I was out in Ogbomosho talking to customers who had TV and other solar appliances. They told me they are pleased to turn off their generator set, that they only use it for few hours a day to run a freezer, for example, for other devices but what it does mean is that people have stopped running their generator for 24 hours. They can run for much shorter period of time and instead use solar to power their devices.
How do you cater for low income earners?
We have a whole range of products for different types of customers. So at the entry level, we have products which are just light and they can also charge phones. We pushed that products out to 20,000 households in northern Nigeria in 2017. So there are different levels of products depending on the particular requirements if the households.
Despite the low generation of power in the country, what would you say is the major challenges in the energy value chain?
Challenges in energy is everywhere. Clearly, there are some technological things that need to be addressed with the structure of energy. But also one of the big challenges is that population continues to grow rapidly. Even if adequate energy is provided, the population growth will outstrip the power provided. The cost of wiring up a customer who is 10km from the nearest road is really very high whereas solar systems doesn’t require any infrastructure you literally go to the house install it is done. So there is a large number of customers that are much better served by stand alone solar. There are customers who have grid, and there are customers in the middle where they have grid but the grid is not reliable enough and they want solar as a back up.
READ ALSO: Video: Customs Arrest Smuggler With Rice Strapped To His Body
How will the partnership with Marubeni assist in this quest?
Marubeni is a Japanese corporation. They have huge experience of rolling out big generation power but Azuri and Marubeni have a shared vision. Our partnership will enable us to scale out our solar power more quickly. So we are committed with working with Marubeni to support the rapid roll out of solar systems, particularly in Nigeria and bring the technology to the thousand of households.
What are the advantages Nigeria will get from Azuri solar system?
First, it is a reliable power, every night users will have light, every night users are going to be watching your TV. Reliability is number one. Number two is your able to get rid of a generator for a large part of the day. You get rid of the noise, fumes and the cost of having a generator. The third one is that with Azuri, you are able to get free energy. With Azuri solar home system, you pay for that system for two and half years, once you pay for that system you no longer have to pay for it anymore.
Discussion about this post