Home #CountryStory Mali

#CountryStory Mali

Katharina S.
November 08, 2023


Mali, located in the heart of West Africa, is host to a vibrant culture, historical significance and stunning landscapes, but is also plagued by economic problems and structural difficulties.

Mali has a very special significance for us; it is the birthplace of the Africa GreenTec idea and the country of our very first pilot project. Despite the current tense situation in the country, our connection to Mali remains constant and our projects continue to operate.


A Glimpse into Mali's History

Mali boasts a fascinating history, with some of the earliest evidence of human civilization found within its borders. The ancient city of Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was once a renowned center of learning and trade in the region. Its libraries and universities attracted scholars from across Africa and the Arab world, making it a pivotal hub of intellectual and cultural exchange. The Djinguereber Mosque, constructed in the 14th century, stands as a testament to the city's architectural grandeur and Islamic heritage.

Diverse Cultural Traditions

Mali is a multi-ethnic country, home to a large number of ethnic groups. More than 15 different languages are spoken, each of which is broken down into different variants and dialects. The official language is French, although it is not widely spoken among the rural population. The lingua franca is Bambara, which is spoken by about 60–80 % of the population.


Each ethnic group has their own unique traditions, languages, and customs. The Bambara, Dogon, Tuareg, and Fulani are just a few of the vibrant communities that contribute to Mali's cultural fabric. The Bambara are the largest ethnic group in Mali, accounting for 35 % of the population. However, one should not think of Mali's various ethnic groups as strictly separate societies: Overlapping habitats and constant cultural exchange are the rule.

Islam is the dominant religion in Mali, with the majority of the population adhering to the Sunni branch of Islam. It was introduced to the region in the 9th century, primarily through the efforts of Arab and Berber traders and scholars.

PatrickReimers_DSF7525 Kopie

The Main Pillar of the Economy – Agriculture

Due to the special geographic location on the Sahara, special climatic conditions prevail. Characterized by long periods of drought and infrequent heavy rainfall, which cannot be absorbed by the dry and hard soil, agriculture is difficult. Due to non-existent or unreliable, expensive water pumps, rain-fed agriculture is often the only option. This is a form of agriculture in which the water for the crops is provided by the rainfall and no additional artificial irrigation is used.


As a result, farmers are forced to move every 2 years to avoid overuse of the soil. This is usually not possible for financial reasons and lack of food, so after a few years of use, the field becomes 'dead'. Thus, the usable land is not only subjected to severe circumstances, but also becomes smaller and smaller. In addition, according to FAO, about 40 percent of fruit and vegetable harvests spoil because people lack the possibility of refrigeration.

As the climate crisis continues, so does desertification. Desertification describes the spread of the desert, which particularly affects farmers in Mali (about 62% of the population is active in agriculture).

Due to a lack of infrastructure and resources, Mali is ranked 186 out of 191 on the Human Development Index in 2022, according to the BMZ.

Created with GIMP

The Current Situation of Mali

Mali is a beautifully diverse country full of possibilities for a better future, one must not ignore the problems. Especially politically the situation is getting worse and worse in the last few years.

Since the 1960s, there have been repeated rebellions by the Tuareg people, wandering settlers in the country. But in 2012, the Tuareg invaded Mali armed to enforce Sharia law. Other armed groups also invaded the country over time. The United Nations, or UN, has been trying to help the people of Mali since 2012. German soldiers are also there to support them. However, the Malian government refuses to accept the help of the UN.


Africa GreenTec and Mali

Mali faces significant energy challenges. Over 60 % of its population resides in rural areas, where access to electricity is scarce or non-existent. Dependence on expensive and polluting energy sources, such as diesel generators and kerosene lamps, hindered development and perpetuated a cycle of energy poverty.

Mali, the country of origin of our founder Aida Schreiber, was the first country where we were active and where our own history started: The idea of Africa GreenTec was born in Mali in June 2014, when Aida and Torsten Schreiber were invited by the Malian president to look at the country's energy supply. After visiting a 20 megawatt diesel power plant in the capital Bamako, their lives changed. The visited power plant was built back in the 1960s and, together with two other diesel power plants, is responsible for controlling the base load in Mali's metropolis of millions. It burns 170,000 liters of diesel every day with an efficiency of just over ten percent under an outside temperature of 45 °C in the shade. All of this in a country with an average of 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. The diesel has to be delivered daily by 10 trailer trucks on a broken road 1,500 kilometers from the Senegalese port of Dakar.

This experience laid the foundation for Africa GreenTec and the dream of empowering people through sustainable energy solutions, such as solar energy.

In 2016, we installed the world's first Solartainer in Mourdiah, Mali. Since then, a lot has happened: In the next few years, 19 more electrification projects have been added in Mali. At those ImpactSites we want to extend our services with our ImpactProducts such as the Cooltainer, Watertainer and PumpUPs to increase our impact and support to the communities.

Home #CountryStory Senegal

#CountryStory Senegal – From Arid Semi-Desert to Rainforest

Katharina S.
July 09, 2022

Senegal, a republic in West Africa. Senegal was named after the identically named river , which also forms the border with Mauritania. To the west of Senegal lie the Atlantic Ocean and Gambia. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north and by Mali in the east, whilst the neighboring states in the south are Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Enclosed within Senegal lies The Gambia.

Encompassing an area of about 200,000 km², Senegal is just half the size of Germany and has about 16.71 million inhabitants. Senegal has a particularly strong population growth of about 2.29% per year. In the west of the republic, on a peninsula, lies the capital city of Dakar, the most populous city in Senegal with about 1,150,000 inhabitants. However, about 80 % of the people live in more rural regions.

The Wolof are the largest people in Senegal, so Wolof is, next to the official language French, the most spoken language. Their singers and griots (professional singers, poets who recite texts as stories or lessons) are known far beyond the borders of Africa. They were able to preserve their own culture even during colonization and are almost exclusively Muslim. In addition to Muslim Senegalese, Christianity is also strongly represented (you can find an article on the topic of common fasting times in our ImpactBlog).
Senegal was conquered by Islam from the 9th century onwards. This led to the creation of Tekrur in Senegal, a large empire founded by the Serer people on the Senegal River. It developed into a large and significant trading center. The supremacy of the Tekrur passed to the Mali Empire in the 14th century. It was at this time that the first Portuguese sailors set out for the coast of West Africa. They were the harbingers of colonization, which had its beginnings in Senegal. However, the Portuguese were primarily interested in a gold trade independent of the Arabs. From the 17th century, the Portuguese trade network was replaced by French, Dutch and British colonies. The French had established bases in Saint Louis and on the Ile de Gorée and built slave prisons and schools. In these bases, the captured Africans were collected and taken to America in large galleys.

The various Wolof kingdoms were destroyed in the takeover. However, one people, the Serer, consistently rejected the takeover in central and western Senegal. The Serer are a farming people and are known for their blacksmithing skills.

Senegal became independent on August 20, 1960, a year after its foundation as a republic. The first president was Léopold Sédar Senghor, who had already fought for the country’s freedom under the French colonial administration. He presented the country with a new constitution in 1963 and, after vocal demands, carried out numerous democratic reforms in the years that followed. Since the last elections in 2012, the government has been taken over by the rap musicians “Y’en a marre,” which means “We’re fed up.” They have managed to make the internationally known musician Youssou N’Dour the minister of education in today’s Senegal.

Senegal has few mineral resources. As a result, there is little industry in Senegal except for textile and food processing companies. Most people work in agriculture. Therefore, agriculture is a natural livelihood for the rapidly growing population and employs over two-thirds of the Senegalese. Smallholder farms grow millet, rice, cassava, potatoes, vegetables and cotton for subsistence. However, droughts, overgrazing and soil erosion pose particular challenges to the Senegalese and lead to reduced yields, leaving the country’s population unable to feed itself. Therefore, some food products have to be imported. Mainly from Nigeria, for example, fish, fish products and peanuts are imported.


Africa GreenTec cannot solve these problems overnight, of course, but we can make a small contribution to improving living conditions, for example through products such as PumpUP, a solar-powered pumping system for irrigating fields. This could bridge periods of drought in Senegal. Furthermore, our Cooltainer can also support people by making harvests last longer through refrigeration.

The economic challenges are also reflected in the country’s educational opportunities. Many young Senegalese have to support their families from an early age. As a result, few take advantage of the educational opportunities offered by universities. The few who do graduate tend to stay in the larger cities, go to other African countries or to France. This exacerbates the already widespread rural exodus.

It is not only the individuals who suffer from too few well-educated people, but also the country’s infrastructure, as there are also often not enough jobs for specialists. Africa GreenTec tries to empower people and to play a supporting role in building an infrastructure. That’s why we are moving our production facility to Dakar to create more local jobs. Our first Cooltainer ‘made in Africa’ has already been put into operation in the Senegalese village of N’diob (if you want to know more about N’diob, check out the other articles on our ImpactBlog).

Overall, Senegal has great potential, due to the steadily growing population, a large part of which is under 20 years old. The problem remains that many people are not offered the chance to develop their own and the communities’ potential. The chance to find work in their own village and thus not having to flee to the big cities for a job is often not given due to a lack of electricity and cooling infrastructure as well as too few economic opportunities. We at Africa GreenTec want to support the individual cultures of the Senegalese. We want to support the people, whether they are farmers, technicians or school children, in their activities and help them to achieve more self-determination.


The Africa GreenTec Team in Senegal

Home #CountryStory Madagascar

#CountryStory Madagascar – Unique in Culture and Nature

John Manantsoa
July 28, 2021

Madagascar, shaped like a left foot in the South East of the African Continent, is the 5th largest island on the planet. With 587,000 km², 400 km away from the mainland, separated by the Mozambique Channel, and the eastern coast opens up to the Indian Ocean. The neighboring islands are Comoros, Seychelles, Mayotte, Mauritius and Reunion. The capital City is Antananarivo (the city of the Thousands) and Madagascar is composed of 23 regions.

The country used to be a monarchy before it was colonised by the French. The “Republic of Madagascar” then obtained its independence in 1960 after 65 years of French colonization. The country is thus part of the Francophone countries but nevertheless opens up to the rest of the world through economic exchanges.

Historically, the first inhabitants of the island came from the Austronesian part and Insulindia together with a wave of migrants from the African continent.

Today the inhabitants of Madagascar, the Malagasy are composed of 18 ethnic groups with their own culture and language, depending on the region. The official language is Malagasy and the French language is used in administrative papers.


Local man from Mahavelona


Local girl from Mahavelona selling food

A Land That Finds Union in Diversity

This population of cosmopolitan origin already presents part of the cultural richness of the big island through their union in diversity. Another cultural good that unites Malagasy is the idea of Fady. These are fixed rules about what one should not do in certain places or at certain times, or at least what one should rather not do out of consideration for expected negative consequences. Fady means “forbidden” and it varies mostly depending on the history, the region, the ethnic group. For a foreigner, following the Fady is showing respect to the local people.

As an example, many regions follow the Fady kisoa where it is forbidden to bring or eat pork meat. One of the reasons for this can be that during the time of Andrianampoinimerina (1800), the Merina’s King forbade people and farmers to bring pigs into the territory because they eat vegetables and products in the fields and as consequence: starvation for his people.

There are also other Fady, like

  • Fady alika: dogs are forbidden;
  • Fady tongolo: for Onion and Garlic.

Common practice among all Malagasy is not only Fady, but also ancestor worship. It is part of the religion for almost all Malagasy people, even though officially only 52 % of the population lives according to indigenous beliefs (animism, ancestor worship). The other religions are Christianity with 41 % and Islam with 7 %.

Another specification of Malagasy Behaviour is to follow “Ohabolana”. These are proverbs said by the ancestor “Ny Ntaolo” where their words are full of wisdom and that everyone could apply or use in their everyday life. Like the Fady, each region and ethnic group also have their characteristical proverbs.

“Ny valala tsy in-droa mandry am-bavahady”: The grasshopper doesn’t stand two times near the gate. This proverb is used to tell someone that an opportunity is offered to him and it won’t come back if he/she doesn’t take it.

“Izay mitambatra vato, izay misaraka fasika”: Those who unite are rocks, those who separate themselves are sand. The message is clear.

City and Countryside

More than 26.97 million inhabitants lived in the country in 2019 with about 1,3 million in the capital city. About 30 % of the population is living in urban areas while 70 % live in rural areas. Life in rural areas is characterized by a picturesque way of life where human values ​​and ancestral traditions are mostly preserved. The means of transportation are carts pulled by zebus. Depending on the region, rural areas are mainly agricultural.

The zebus pull the cart


Zebus stroll around


Carts are the main transportation means in rural areas

Rice – An Important Agricultural Good in Madagascar

The average Malagasy consumes 130 kg of rice per year. The staple food being rice, the main agricultural activity in rural areas is rice cultivation. Madagascar has two large rice granaries: Alaotra and Marovoay. Rice can be grown in naturally irrigated areas (rice fields, basins, terraced rice fields) and there is rainfed rice cultivation (on the land). Despite the extent of cultivable land, rice production is not enough to feed the entire population. Indeed, the cultivation methods are mostly non-motorized, thus limiting the production yield. Through different programs, the government helps farmers to improve the yield and Madagascar imports rice from other countries like India.


Farmers working on the fields


The farmers work a lot with their hands

In urban settings, everyday life is f more strongly influenced by globalization, but cultural identities are brought to light during special ceremonies. Indeed, in cities, economic activities are mainly tertiary activities and the lifestyle of Malagasy closely resembles that of developed countries.

With an electrification rate of 23 %, but only 18 % in rural areas, the inadequacy of infrastructure in rural areas generates an exodus to large cities where farmers aspire to find better conditions. However, cities, such as the capital, are increasingly saturated and people who have not found economic opportunities and a place to stay are becoming homeless, thus showing the contrast between the country’s wealth with all its potential and poverty.


Capital City


Antananarivo is a busy city

Natural Paradise with Rich Flora and Fauna

Madagascar is also known for its tourism potential. Between 80 % to 90 % of the fauna and flora are endemic species.Among the most known endemic species in Madagascar are:

  • the Maki or Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur Catta), 
  • the Babakoto (Indri-Indri),
  • the Aye-Aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis),
  • the Fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox)

Madagascar also has a special flora. The most known species are the Baobabs and we can find 7 of the 9 species there, of which 6 are endemic to the Big Island. Those trees could reach 40 meters in height and are sacred to the local people. The Baobabs Alley in the west is a very well-known tourist attraction.

The varied climate and geological history creates a unique landscape for each region. We can find several Protected Areas among the National Parks such as The National Park of Andasibe-Mantadia, the Tsingy of Bemaraha, The Ankarafantsika National Park in the North West and National Park of Isalo.

These specific characteristics make the Island a very attractive place for Eco-tourism.
We also have on the East Coast in Sainte-Marie the Whales Festival where we can watch the  yearly migration of whales. Overall, the landscapes of the different regions offer real life-size artistic canvases that must be preserved.


Rural area Mahavelona


People working on the fields

Africa GreenTec Creates Sustainable Impact Through Smart Renewable Energy Solutions

With the “Empower Madagascar’s Rural Areas (E.M.R.A)” project, one of the objectives of Africa GreenTec in Madagascar is to make an impact on rural development. The first phase – electrification – will increase the potential for rural areas and allow the creation of new jobs, thus allowing the rural municipality to flourish while conserving the environment through the use of renewable energies.These projects will bring light both to everyday life and to the intellectual through access to communication and knowledge.


Woman pours out the harvest


People working

Madagascar has different climates: equatorial, humid, sub-humid, subtropical, semi-arid, sub-desertic. At the moment of writing, the world is looking at the South of Madagascar, which has a very big problem of malnutrition and famine. This region has a semi-arid climate and has for several years been experiencing a period of intense drought. Agricultural production always depends on the weather. Because of climate change, the problem has become higher than ever.

The Map shows the different climate zones and the location of our pilot project in Mahavelona.

Climate Change on the Island

Africa GreenTec also addresses the needs of farmers. Using Solar pumps, the fields can be watered with groundwater which helps to harvest more rice and vegetables. The Cooltainer helps to store vegetables and crops, so the farmers can sell it for better prices and we prevent food loss.


Market day in Mahavelona


Local products are sold

Fight for a Sustainable and Fair Future for Coming Generations

Africa GreenTec cares deeply about these harmful effects, which is why it wants to invest in the energy transition of the Big Island towards renewable energies in order to preserve its cultural and environmental values ​​as well as possible. In Madagascar, all the essential aspects of sustainable development are still to be done and to be built.

The young generation is becoming more and more aware of this and wants to work in the right direction for a better future.


School in Mahavelona


The kids have a football match

Home #CountryStory Niger

#CountryStory Niger – A New Market With Great Opportunities

August 31, 2020


Evening atmosphere on the Niger River

In this article, we would like to give you a brief insight into the Republic of Niger. We report on special features, the current economic situation and what Africa GreenTec can achieve in the country. As a little special, our colleague Mahamadou gives you some interesting insider information.

Africa GreenTec Breaks New Ground and Continues on Its Path

Since we began transforming numerous villages in Mali into ImpactSites thanks to our holistic solutions, we have also been looking around for new opportunities in neighbouring countries. Very often, people from African countries write to us asking us to electrify villages in their country too. We are now receiving more and more messages from governments and authorities themselves who want us to help their rural populations achieve greater self-determination and growth through electricity.

This is what happened in Niger and we were able to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government in which we agreed to electrify 50 villages.

We are now focussing all our efforts on examining and evaluating suitable villages. Above all, we are looking for partners, investors and institutions that will support us in financing the projects and participate in our sustainable business model.


Our team in conversation with the villagers


We were welcomed with open arms

Niger - A Savannah and Desert State Characterized by Villages

The Republic of Niger is home to almost 23 million inhabitants in an area roughly three times the size of Germany. In addition to the capital Niamey with around 1 million inhabitants, there are a handful of larger cities and 80% of the population live in rural areas. 

The official language is French and the majority of the population is Muslim. The country is characterized by a savannah and desert landscape with small mountains and oases. The Niger River, after which the country is named, flows through the relatively densely populated south-west.

Through the electrification of villages, including the provision of water and cold chains, people in rural areas can achieve better and more sustainable crop yields and higher incomes, develop their structures and thus live more self-determined lives.

A Young, Growing Population - Problems and Opportunities

Since independence from France in 1960, Niger's population has grown from 3.2 million to 23.3 million people. Almost half of all people living in Niger today are under the age of 16. At 15.2 years, the country had the youngest median age in the world in 2012. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (bmz) aptly describes the major challenges this poses:

Sustainable development progress is made massively more difficult by the extremely high population growth of just under four per cent per year: economic successes are not sufficient to offer the growing young population adequate prospects for the future. Every year, around 400,000 additional young people need to be provided with work, services and food.

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (bmz)
Bildschirmfoto 2023-11-30 um 13.14.38

The structures in the country have not been able to keep up with the rapid growth, which is why Niger ranks last out of the 189 countries listed on the current United Nations Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI index analyses the education, income and life expectancy/health of the population together.

The disadvantages are particularly serious for the non-urban population, whose existence is constantly threatened by natural disasters and food shortages. Droughts, erosion and over-utilised soils also cause major problems for agriculture. Climate change and unsustainable farming methods are having an impact:

  • The illiteracy rate is around 80 % and here too there is a lack of structures and teaching staff, especially in rural areas. 
  • Only 60 % of people have access to clean drinking water and only 10 % have adequate sanitation and healthcare.
  • The low electrification rate of just 0.4 % in rural areas is particularly serious.

Education is an important foundation for a self-determined life


Most hospital wards are medically inadequately equipped

The young and motivated population in combination with a functioning and committed government also offers incredible opportunities. If the people in rural areas are given the foundations to develop themselves and their village, they will seize them with great enthusiasm. We at Africa GreenTec also pursue this approach. We meet the local people at eye level and sense their drive. We are therefore confident that, together with you and the authorities, our electricity, water, cooling and internet solutions can create the conditions that will enable them and future generations to lead a better life.

Agriculture As an Economic Engine

Even though only around 15 % of the country's land area can be used for agriculture, this is sufficient for such a large country that agriculture is the largest economic sector in terms of GDP, accounting for almost 42 %. The main crops are millet, beans and peanuts. Vegetables, henna, tobacco and capsicum are other important sources of income alongside livestock.


Mining is another major economic sector thanks to the country's rich mineral resources. Uranium is at the top of the list, followed by oil, coal, gold, iron, nickel, copper and phosphate. The often uncontrolled mining leads to environmental damage in the surrounding area.

Agriculture as well as micro-enterprises and production very often only serve to cover personal needs and do not contribute to the income of the communities and the country. In most cases, there is a lack of the prerequisites to be able to operate effectively, which means that farms and farmers are unable to develop and build up structures.

Here too, Africa GreenTec directly addresses the problems. With electricity, water and cooling, farmers and entrepreneurs can work more efficiently, expand their business, create work for the young population and thus give themselves and their village a more self-determined future. Our products and concepts can be adapted to the circumstances of each village to maximize their impact.


The Climate in Niger: Lots of Sun and Long Dry Periods

Temperatures in the country range from an average of 20 °C in January to 34 °C in June. The rainy season lasts from June to October, with most of the rainfall concentrated in August. Between 400 and 700 mm of precipitation falls annually. The rest of the year is the dry season. This prolonged dry period means that farmers face major challenges every year when it comes to irrigating their fields and storing their crops. 

Climate change is causing conditions to deteriorate further and further. Droughts are becoming more extreme and natural disasters more frequent, making agriculture and food supply in general increasingly challenging.

At the same time, the low cloud cover and many hours of sunshine provide the perfect conditions for solar power generation. Water pumps and cooling facilities powered by solar energy help farmers to grow, store and sell their produce even in dry and hot areas. This is where Africa GreenTec comes in - with technologies that make it possible to better deal with the consequences of climate change and provide clean energy through solar technology.

Sport and Leisure: Football Brings People Together

The most widespread sport is football. A ball and enough players can be found all over the world and in Niger, too, football is played in all towns and villages and is enjoyed by young and old alike. In addition to football, the "Lutte traditionnelle" is particularly well known in the media. This is a type of wrestling match in which individual fighters from different villages compete against each other and are accompanied by musicians and griots. Camel races in the deserts of the Agadez and Tahoua regions and horse races are also popular and school sports include table tennis, volleyball and basketball.

A Little Insight Into the Culture of Niger

No one can talk about the everyday life of people in Niger as authentically as someone who grew up and was born there, such as our colleague Mahamadou:

People in Niger love to share and always think about their fellow human beings. Our motto in life: what is enough for one person is also enough for five! We also love lamb. Sometimes so much that we have it for breakfast. We are very spontaneous. Although almost everyone has a phone, nobody calls before they visit someone. You just pop round to their house or work and hope they're there. One of the things we don't like is that Niger is very often confused with Nigeria. Of course, we don't hold this against anyone for long, as we are not vindictive people and the names are really very similar. Nevertheless, they are two completely different countries with different cultures.

If you would like to find out more about Niger and, above all, learn more about the country's history and population groups, we recommend the following websites: