An exclusive interview with Dustin Homer, director of client solutions, Fraym, USA. At the upcoming Future Energy East Africa in Nairobi, he is part of a panel discussion on: “Solutions for mitigating the following risks and increasing bankability”.
“So many investments are based on inadequate or inaccurate information about commercial potential”
Let’s start with some background on your organisation and your work in the energy sector?
Fraym is a geospatial data company focused on Africa. Fraym combines a massive amount of survey data and satellite imagery to produce really high-resolution consumer insights for virtually every country on the African continent. This means that we can compute, for example, how much people are able to spend on energy–with precision down to 1×1 square km. No comparable source of information is available on the continent.
We provide data and analysis products to customers in many sectors: consumer goods, retail, banking, social development, telcos, and more. We also do a great deal of work in the power sector–both to inform large-scale infrastructure planning and to help off-grid companies reach their customers more effectively.
Any projects that you are involved in in East Africa that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
We’ve recently done work for a number of off-grid product companies in East Africa. We’ve worked with these companies to better articulate who their customers are and to provide very precise insight on where they can find these prospective customers. These types of unprecedented analysis help off-grid companies be much faster, more efficient and more successful in reaching customers and growing their businesses (and access to energy) in East Africa. We think this is some of the most exciting and impactful work we do at Fraym.
What in your view are the challenges to the energy sector in East Africa?
From our perspective, the biggest energy sector challenge is knowing how to reach the people who haven’t been reached yet. The easy connections have been made–what will it take to bring energy to everyone else? This is where Fraym feels like it can make a big contribution. We have precise insight on where people are, how much power they demand, and how much they’re able to pay for it. This kind of community-level insight is hugely important for deciding where to expand infrastructure, where to provide subsidies, where to double-down on mini-grids or home solar products, and so on.
What is your vision for the energy sector in the region?
The energy sector has developed technologies and approaches for reaching every type of power consumer in East Africa. Fraym’s vision is to provide the information that companies and governments need to actually reach all of these people with the right products and services.
At Future Energy East Africa, you are part of a panel discussion at the conference on: “Solutions for mitigating the following risks and increasing bankability” – what will be your message at the event?
My main message will be that we can understand commercial demand – with a great deal of precision – using the types of data that Fraym makes available. So many investments are based on inadequate or inaccurate information about commercial potential. We can fill that gap and mitigate risk by helping investors, developers, utilities, and others understand demand and ability to pay for power with local-level precision.
How important is Future Energy East Africa on the region’s energy calendar?
Certainly the best event for convening major energy sector players in the region.