The story of the first pilot project in Niger begins in March 2017 with an invitation from Minister of State Ouhoumodou. Together with our co-founders Andreas Rohardt and Biba Nainou Dogo, we visit Ouhoumodou's birthplace Amaloul Nomade in the Tahoua region in the center of Niger. The journey takes us through the Sahara, along the border with Mali. When we arrived in the village, we were surrounded by enthusiastic people eagerly waiting for electricity.
At the time, Amaloul was an important pilot project for the government of Niger. Africa GreenTec was to become a strategic partner for the electrification of the least developed country in the world at the time. However, there were no plans or ideas on how to promote the electrification of rural areas. Africa GreenTec planned to implement a holistic project based on the experience gained in Mali. Amaloul was ideal for the pilot project as it is located quite far away from the capital Niamey and the national power grid and has a suitable population (6,000 - 7,000 people).
Back in Germany, ZDF also got in touch. The political situation in Germany was very tense at the time, as we were in the middle of the so-called "refugee crisis". Every day, we saw images on television of people making their way to Europe in the hope of a better life, often losing their lives in the Mediterranean. Solutions were being sought. We had recently won the environmental prize as a team. There was an editor from ZDF on the jury who knew that we were currently active in Niger. As the region in which we were planning our pilot project is the hub of the refugee routes in sub-Saharan Africa and ZDF had already planned a documentary about the smuggling routes in this region, he was very interested in a second documentary about our work.
A few years later, the plant is still standing. We and the community are very satisfied with the progress made. In addition to many successes, unforeseeable challenges also arose time and again, as is so often the case. Amaloul is located in a region where people often have to contend with extreme weather events.
For this reason, we occasionally had technical problems with the radio connection in the ImpactSite smart meter system, as strong winds damaged one of our antennas. We were able to successfully repair the antenna and further develop the robustness of our technology. The signals from the smart meters were transmitted again without any problems and the electricity grid could be used without interruption. The team built a kind of radio tower to increase the transmission power in future.