Exclusive interview with the multi-award winning Evans Wadongo, co-founder of GreenWize Energy, and founder of Sustainable Development For All, Kenya.
At the upcoming African Utility Week in Cape Town, Evans, who at 19 designed the first-ever African designed solar lamp, is presenting a keynote address entitled: “Entrepreneurial thinking: Nurturing a winning business idea.”
Let’s start with the background to GreenWize Energy – what was the impetus for founding the organisation?
GreenWize Energy was founded to advance African designed and developed energy solutions within Africa. It was founded on the realisation that most renewable energy solutions being implemented in Africa are developed out of Africa, and that local innovations remain untapped.
The founders of GreenWize wanted to build on the many years of experience working a program with local youths to develop simple solar lamps called Mwangabora, so that GreenWize donates part of its profits to enhance sustainability of such community oriented programs.
Please explain more about your different projects?
Greenwize Energy focuses on Renewable energy products and solutions- Mwangabora solar solutions for households, small businesses, street lighting and institutional cook stoves.
GreenWize has also developed its custom PAYG system that it seeks to license to various companies interested in using the technology in selling their products to consumers who pay over period.
With the ever-increasing energy costs for manufacturing companies, businesses, governments and non-governmental organisations, GreenWize has been among pioneers in conducting energy audits, and providing custom advisory to clients to reduce their energy consumption.
When you think about Green Energy in Africa, you need a partner with local experience – a partner who has a team of personnel – in Engineering, Project Planning and Management and Financial Management. At GreenWize, we offer a unique Project Consultancy experience- we have a team of relatively young but extremely innovative people who would move your energy project to the next phase beyond other solutions in the market.
GreenWize has developed an all in one EnergieRapide energy hub that will generate power from solar and wind, incorporate water purification system, refrigeration as part of its distributed energy solutions.
Any specific success story that you would like to highlight for us? How has this changed people’s lives?
GreenWize energy solutions are; helping manufacturing companies reduce their energy costs and become more move towards green production, helping rural households access clean energy, and helping develop new locally designed solutions that provide clean water and clean water to communities. These solutions collectively help reduce carbon emissions, improve incomes, enhance productivity, and create employment for young people.
How do you see the future of renewable energy on the continent?
Africa is ripe for renewable energy. The cost of various forms of renewable energies is coming down and this is an opportunity to tap and leap frog the expensive non-renewable sources. Africa needs to explore more of the huge potential in Geothermal, solar and wind.
Decentralised energy systems as well as using use of block chain, AI and mobile money can be applied effectively to ensure cheaper and more efficient access to renewable energy which can then help solve food security, healthcare, education, access to clean water and other challenges.
What is your message to young entrepreneurs who want to get involved in the energy industry?
Don’t wait - start now. Research and adapt new, emerging technologies in creating energy solutions.
What are the investment obstacle or challenges in the sector currently in your view?
Lack of adequate patient capital to de-risk energy projects- many of which require longer period to be profitable- is a major hindrance.
Are there lessons that the rest of the continent can learn from Kenya?
Kenya is effectively developing a mix of energy sources- there is huge strive in wind energy, solar energy as well as Geothermal, that compliments the hydro-generated utility. Kenya has also been on the forefront of advancing Pay As You Go energy solutions for rural households.
What are you most looking forward to at the event?
I look forward to meeting various stakeholders at the AUW and learning their interventions in different contexts.
Anything you would like to add?
It’s time for governments to also give incentives to local innovations and entrepreneurs in energy, access to water and agriculture, instead of always focusing on the Foreign Direct Investors.