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 visited Ouhoumodou’s birthplace Amaloul Nomade in the Tahoua region of central Niger.
The journey takes us through the seemingly surreal Sahara, along the very dangerous border to Mali. Once in the village, we were enthusiastically surrounded by people who have been waiting for electricity for ages.
Similar to Mourdiah in Mali, Amaloul was an important pilot project for the government of Niger back then. Africa GreenTec was to become a strategic partner for the electrification of what was infamously known as the least developed country on Earth at the time. However, there were no plans or ideas as to how the electrification of rural areas such as this could be driven forward. Having gained prior experience in Mali, Africa GreenTec came along and promised to implement a holistic project.
At that time we received an inquiry from the German public broadcasting station ZDF, who wanted to shoot a feature about the project in Niger. Filming followed a very strict schedule, which forced us to have the project completed by September 2017. The first shoots with ZDF were already happening in July 2017 in Germany, which gives an idea of the tight schedule.
The official opening in September 2017 was attended by all the important ministers and directors from the energy sector. To this day, the Amaloul project is the benchmark for any proposed off-grid installation in Niger.
The complete documentary “Die Solarstrom-Macher” (in German) can be viewed here:
After the successful installation of the new Solartainer prototype “Amali” with the serial number AGT16-001 in Niger, we wanted to test our newly developed system in Mali and determine whether the new business model based on tiered pricing and satellite-controlled smart meter technology could also be implemented here, having previously operated this prototype with analogue meters.
The village of Djoliba and its neighbouring village Dalakana already had its own electricity grid that was powered by a diesel generator for some months 4 years ago. So the customers had already had experience with electricity. However, it was based on a “forfait” model, i.e. a flat-rate price charged per light bulb, television or other device.
This was also a challenge later on in the project, as customers first had to develop an understanding of our new pricing model.
Like its sister unit AGT16-001in Niger, AGT16-002 was also equipped with prototype technology for lithium power storage. For the installation in Mali, our German technicians Lorenz Brellochs and Robert Skibicki decided to also travel to Mali. As we had already started our project “50 Solartainers for Mali” at that time, we seized the opportunity in December 2017 to also train young employees on site.
The location along the national highway proved especially beneficial, as business owners here have been able to expand their services considerably in recent months, thanks to the electricity provided by us. A popular road stop, small fast food restaurants are in prime location.
The hairdresser expanded his shop and added a small entertainment service for his customers, featuring films and radio programmes. There is an electronics store that offers Playstation games. Two internet cafés invite visitors to linger and surf. There are several tailors and you can purchase chilled drinks.
Through our subsidiary in Mali, we currently supply 228 households and 24 businesses. Being one of our very first installations, the Solartainer AG16-002 reaches its capacity limit rather quickly, especially in the evening hours.
These projects laid the foundations on which our numerous other projects were able to build in the years that followed. In our ImpactStories you can read about the challenges we face and the impact that electricity has in the villages.
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