Around 650 million (50%) of people living in Africa have no access to electricity and the next decades’ challenge is definitively to reduce this drastically. The situation is even more complicated because a large part of Sub-Saharan Africa lives in rural areas. But, it offers paradoxically a huge opportunity for start-up innovating in the energy sector. So, how innovation is the key to access to energy?

Start-up and innovation

Thanks to their flexibility, start-up can bring disruptive technologies and innovation to increase access to energy. In the past few years, many small and mid-size companies innovate in smarter monitoring system, more efficient sensors and meters, big data, etc. Indeed, when a grid extension to electrify remote areas is too costly, innovation can be answered in providing not only reliable and clean but also affordable (at least less expensive) access to energy.

In remote areas where there is no Wi-Fi signal, GSM modules are now able to send SMS messages to the cloud proving data which can be analysed to improve the systems. The use of the deep-learning can help to better anticipate the energy management, big data collection can improve investors visibility, innovations in batteries and solar PV contribute to the multiplication of microgrids… Any company, which can innovate, has an opportunity and the market is huge!

An opportunity for Africa

If there is no doubt that the electrification of Africa will be made partly through innovation, the second challenge is that African start-up in energy sector emerges quickly to position the country at the forefront of its own energy revolution. If Africa manages to do this, it will get a double economic benefit: for the rural communities and small business -which will be electrified- and for innovative African start-up.

To take advantage of the market, they need support, funds, and visibility. For instance, event such as the International Cleantech Week organized in Annecy (France) can obviously be one part of the answer. Indeed, it could be the opportunity for all these start-up to present their innovative solutions. This is as well one of the major goals of Deepbloo: giving visibility to these small promising companies. Indeed, with an ecosystem dedicated to the energy sector, they can promote their innovations to thousands of professionals working in Development Finance Institutions and large energy corporations!

If providing access to remote areas in Africa is an absolute necessity, ensuring that this will be partly done by the African people themselves should continue to be a reality!

Written by Alexandre Guillemot