“Being a part of iPAD Rwanda gives us an opportunity to showcase the value-add that we can provide to this emerging energy market.”
Exclusive interview with Jonathan de Magalhães , founder and owner of Ubuntu Energy Solutions, supporting partner at the upcoming iPAD Rwanda Power & Infrastructure Investment Forum, taking place in Kigali from 3-4 November.
Please can you give us some background on Ubuntu Energy and your current activities in Africa?
Ubuntu Energy have a passion for helping our customers understand how and where their energy is being used, and to find the right solutions for reducing energy consumption, as well as generating power in their environment. Our work into Africa also includes Energy Risk Assessments to ensure that electrical compliance is adhered to within mining and telecomm environments. Our intelligent power solutions also combine solar and battery storage to reduce generator run-time by as much as 90% in some environments that make use of 24×7 diesel generator power.
What projects that you are involved in at the moment in Africa are you most excited about? Any particular success stories you would like to share?
Africa is very exciting for us, as the phrase “African solutions for Africa” means you have to “think outside of the energy-box in Africa” in order to survive because the environment is just so different. We have seen customers that are forced to deploy specific products and solutions because they are prescribed by their American holding companies, yet these products just don’t work in their environment. It ends up costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars per year unnecessarily to keep replacing these products. We are most excited about this because now we are busy working with a large mining company to help them trial different solutions, do data logging and analyse the results, and then write the motivation for them to embrace these solutions that will actually save them money – not cost them. Reducing our customer’s operational expenses is what gets us up in the morning and drives us, and nowhere else is this more exciting than the current power challenges in Africa.
What makes Ubuntu Energy competitive in this market?
Ubuntu Energy have proven to really be Trusted Energy Advisors to our customers. We are not aligned to sell a specific product or service – rather we see ourselves as an extension of the customer’s business, working with them to define both short-term and long-term energy strategies, as well as deploying these energy solutions on site. Customers partner with us because they know we are on their side, and our challenge is to reduce their costs to make them more competitive. If we can save them money, then they can see the value that we provide right away. That sets up the foundation for a long-term partnership with our customers, which is core to our vision of providing the right solution for each specific customer.
What is your vision for Rwanda?
We see Rwanda as offering a lot of opportunity for us to partner with large customers who are now being encouraged to expand their operations there, so we can best assist them to reduce their operating costs around energy use and power generation. We have done energy projects and audits in DRC (Congo), Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana and Mozambique over the past 6 years, so we understand how the Sub-Saharan African market works. As Rwanda starts to take the lead as being the new untapped opportunity in Africa, we want to be first-of-mind when it comes to partnering with a specialist energy company to provide consulting, audit and power solutions.
Why did you decide to partner with iPAD Rwanda?
Being a part of iPAD Rwanda gives us an opportunity to showcase the value-add that we can provide to this emerging energy market. Ubuntu Energy’s focus is to expand more into the African market, and we know that being a smaller and more focused, dynamic energy company will provide better return-on-investments for companies that partner with us on energy consulting and turnkey power solution projects.