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Start up in Nigeria provides solar energy to rural communities

CCTV.com

06-17-2016 10:38 BJT

Power shortages are common in Nigeria. The situation is worst in rural communities that aren't connected to the grid. The government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to solve the problem but blackouts persist. Amidst that chaos, lies opportunity for a small start up in the country - which is lighting up forgotten rural communities.

For about eighty years, Obayatan community in Nigeria's Edo State in the south of the country never had electricity supply.

It's one of Nigeria's forgotten rural communities as far as electricity supply goes.
But in October last year, the story of this community of around 1,000 people changed.

A 37.8 kilowatts peak solar system was installed in Obayatan providing uninterrupted power supply.

Today, for just a daily fee of 25 cents, a resident of the community can enjoy 24 hours of electricity.

Five other communities like Obayatan, that had never been connected to the national power grid, in other parts of the country are also have the same solar system installed in them.

It's the initiative of these two young men Femi Adeyemo and Kunle Odebunmi, co-founders of Arnergy, a utility social enterprise that deploys solar energy to rural communities, homes and businesses across the country.

Femi teamed up with his chartered accountant friend Kunle to set up Arnergy in 2014.
And from their small office in Lagos, they are helping to light up homes and keep businesses running at an amazingly affordable cost through a rental system that allows clients to rent a solar system to power their homes for a small daily fee.

"We target the rural poor in the villages. We target the peri-urban and we also target people in the urban centres. So we look at the middle class. The average middle class is growing in Nigeria and the continent so we targeting those people," said Kunle Odebunmi, co-founder of Arnergy.

Customers could choose to any of these three products. The smallest known as Anergy 60 comes with set up fee of 20 dollars and a daily rental payment of 25 cents while the biggest, known as Anergy 500 comes with a set up fee of 126 dollars and a daily rental of 1 dollar. It's indeed cheaper and more environment-friendly than the more widely used generators.

Now, they are two ways to place an order. A customer could do so through their company's app on a mobile phone or on the Arnergy website. The process is fast. Once the company certifies a customer and payment is made, deployment begins immediately.

Real Estate agent, Olufemi Okedairo is one of the several small businesses now using the Anergy solar system in Lagos.

He says he used to spend at least 50 dollars per month fueling his generator and sometimes even more in repairs. But with the solar system, he now get 24 hours electricity at a very much reduced cost

He said, "Before, when there is a power failure, I have to  go out and start the generator and sometimes, it would start. But with this solar system, even when there is power failure the light is there."

Small smoky and noisy generators like these are still the order of the day in Nigeria especially in poor neighborhoods and by small businesses. But with the Arnergy solar rental system penetrating the market, it's only a matter of time before this iconic generator disappears from the market.

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