Off Grid Electric
- Website: www.offgrid-electric.com
- Sector: Renewable energy
- Country of operations: Tanzania
Connecting a continent
When smartphone use took off across Africa recently, Off Grid Electric saw an opportunity. The company realised that as demand for smartphones rose throughout the continent, so would demand for regular electricity that could charge those phones. However, the reach of national grids in Africa remained limited.
Off Grid Electric responded by developing a system that makes electricity accessible to anyone who needs it. “Smartphones need to be charged every day, which is very difficult if you don’t have electricity in your home,” says CEO and Co-founder Xavier Helgesn. “People want to be connected to the world through radio, television and the internet, and we see this driving consumers to seek more reliable, affordable and accessible electricity.”
“The key is not only to stay on the leading edge of technology, but to make it relevant for our consumers”
Ease of use is a critical issue here, so Off Grid Electric’s system is based on a simple ‘plug-and-play’ solar technology that’s easy to install. “We don’t even need to wire the home for them to enjoy the benefits of electricity,” says Xavier.
To help make its system affordable to customers, the company offers pre-paid financing. “The pre-paid element takes a cue from the mobile phone industry,” he says. “Most consumers can’t afford a solar energy system up front, but they can pay for it out of savings or income.”
In a fast-growing market, the potential for growth is huge and to help it capitalise on the opportunities on offer, Off Grid Electricity recently signed a deal with EDF France to expand across Africa. The company has calculated that more than 100 million homes and businesses could benefit from its services and, so far, it has only scratched the surface.
- 0.1% of the continent’s homes and businesses are currently served by Off Grid Electricity
“We serve only 0.1% of those homes and businesses today,” says Xavier. Off Grid Electricity might be well-placed to tap this burgeoning market for renewable energy, but the company needs to keep on top of market developments if it’s to continue to thrive, emphasises Xavier. “The key for our company is not only to stay on the leading edge of technology, but to always make it relevant for our consumers.”