Ignite Power to provide solar electricity for over 2 million people in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 May 2019:

Ignite Power, the leading solar-energy provider and financier in Africa, is gearing up operations in Sierra Leone. The company is aiming to supply solar home systems to more than 2 million people living in the rural areas of the country.

When completed, the project will provide households with clean and permanent solution for the first time in their lives.

According to UN data, over 5 million people in the country currently live without electricity in their homes. A safe and sustainable electricity will dramatically change the lives of millions of people, improving their health, education and economic opportunities.

This new project will provide high value employment for more than 3,000 local installers, agents and management members, many of whom will be women (according to the company’s gender equality policy), says Ignite Power.

It will also save over 350,000 tons of carbon emission in the country, leading to a more clean and sustainable market.

As Ignite Power provides its customers with the most affordable pricing plan in Africa (less than 15 cents per day, 1 cent per 1 lumen-hour), the project will also save customers over $500 million on unreliable, hazardous energy spending.

“Through technology and with our unique model, we provide customers with safe and green electricity at the lowest pricing plan in the continent,” says Yariv Cohen, Ignite Power’s CEO. “Our solar energy solutions are optimized for large deployment of rural electrification programs to reach vast areas, with rapid deployment at scale”.

According to Cohen, following a successful pilot phase, that connected homes all across the country, thousands more home solar units are waiting in Ignite’s warehouse in the country, ready to be installed.

The company says that it will also manage all installations and services, as well as provide upgrades as households affordability improves.

“With continued support from the government of Sierra Leone, we have an opportunity to secure all required support from international agencies who believe that transformational change is possible in Sierra Leone”, says Cohen.

The editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Abdul Rashid Thomas, asked Ignite Power about the total cost of the project; how it will be financed; and how they will recover their investment.

This is what they said: “The total cost of the project is estimated at up to $55 million for phase one, and $100 million for phase two. Ignite Power will be responsible for the financing of the operation, through private-public partnership (PPP) with the government of Sierra Leone.

“Ignite Power uses a leasing model, meaning customers pay a small amount of money each month for 2-3 years. After completing the payments, the customer owns the system. The company provides its customers with the most affordable price plan in Africa – less than 15 US cents per day, 1 cent per lumen hour.”

About Ignite Power

Built for scale, Ignite Power is the only rural energy company designed to achieve 100% energy access. With the most affordable solar solutions in Africa and record deployment times, Ignite Power is the go-to energy company for governments and leaders wishing to connect entire communities to safe, clean power.

To date, the company has already connected over 1.1 million people to electricity in 5 different countries throughout Africa, creating more than 3,500 local jobs.

10 Comments

  1. Well said gentlemen. However, what was the cost of the powership that supplied electricity to our beloved Freetown, during the APC regime? Just curious. A wild guess will also help my quest.

  2. Areaman – responding to you doesn’t mean we are on the same level, not at all – As all branches and roots are on the same tree, but at different levels, so also are liquids like oils that float easily above water; they may be in the same vessel but one remains on top of the other. Clear enough?

  3. Area man, first of all try using your real name on this platform or any other whenever you engage, or participate in fruitful discussions and contribute ideas. Be authentic, be a person with a real name like Santhkie Sorie, Aminata Conteh or Sahr Matturi, before you can talk to me. Liquids know their levels. A chicken and an Eagle although both have feathers, are NOT the same thing. Enough said! Rising Sun will Rise Again!

    • I see you’ve got jokes. Anyway, let me extract a few observations from your response: (A) Why the need to know my name? Can’t you be content to address the substance of an argument? Does knowing my name afford you opportunity to apply your tribal litmus test? (B) If the primacy of your logic is that overused assertion: “ Liquids find their levels”, doesn’t responding to me demonstrate you are at my level?

      Man, quit the naughtiness and provincial thinking, and embrace Sa Lone. And yes, I won’t be reducing myself anymore to have these kinds of exchanges with you. Have a nice day.

  4. Alieu, let me just politely make a point of correction about the photovoltaic cell as you described. PV cells as they are called are just the solar cells (converting the energy from the sun to electrical energy) themselves. They are not for storage. You need NICKEL CADMIUM, LEAD ACID, NICKEL IRON or LITHIUM BATTERIES for storage.

    Presently, there are solar panels sold with storage batteries. For domestic of industrial purposes, you need to know the load/power consumption of the houses or industries etc the panels are going to supply. These batteries are not cheap. The higher the power rating, the more expensive they become. I agree with Saidu on that point.

    In fact, did this company explain if high power storage batteries will be supplied? If so, did they give the government any specifications about the batteries (power, current rating, charging and rundown times?) I would not go into the know how and technical details/calculations now.

    These are serious issues to discuss before undertaking such expensive projects. I agree with you Alieu on the durability of the solar cells. They can last for a very long time with little maintenance. They can also help with pollution when the excess energy produced is sent to the national grid/power station for use by other areas/zones. When that happens, the grid will slow down by shutting down some of its engines, thereby reducing pollution in short.

    The most important of this project is its VISION to EMPOWER our WOMEN. Although the vision of this company for our WOMEN is very good, I urge the government to look into the project carefully.

  5. Alieu…anyone behind the safety and convenience of a computer screen or a phone can claim to be an APC supporter in order to tilt an argument in a different light,and towards their favor. I’ve seen it hundreds of times before. You are not the first and certainly won’t be the last.

    Bring me an argument that is thoughtful and sound – crafted from credible data, facts and figures, regarding the efficacy of Solar energy over wind technology and other affordable energy sources, and we will go from there.

    I hope you will find the intellectual stamina to cope and measure up to the challenge. And by the way, please try to endure and last until the end, otherwise the whole process will become tedious, boring and uninteresting. Trust me, I will loudly applaud if you can manage to cope.

    The APC is ever-evolving and progressing. We are changing strategically by the minute – day in and out for the better, just like the skin of a newly born child. We are like stars that outshine, disappear and return again to dazzle brighter than ever before. A new era of APC leadership is on its way, still developing and being nourished in the womb of existence – and that day she will be forth will be glorious day in Africa…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  6. Alieu Konteh, thanks for your refreshingly frank and factual contribution. I believe more APC supporters should adopt a similar outlook; that mature appraisal of missteps and how they could be avoided, should they eventually return to power.

    None of the jaundiced commentary I read on this platform from the likes of Saidu Konteh is going to help. People see through the pseudo-intellectualism, the sometimes highly tribalized critiques particularly off-putting to non Northerns who support APC. You cannot continue to be political even on issues that ought not to be so. So I welcome your perspective, Alieu.

  7. The problem with Africans is that we are strong believers in accepting things at face value. Well I have shocking news for everyone, because most things are normally not the way they may appear at first glance. It was wise of the Editor of the Telegraph to enquire about the cost involved in the implementation of such a mammoth, critical project – but sadly, he forgot to ask specifically about the challenges, problems and shortcomings that may be encountered by a poor and fragile nation investing in Solar energy.

    Inspite of the sugarcoated response IGNITE has given, 55 million dollars for the first phase of a non-dependable energy source is too heavy a financial burden for our struggling nation to bear. It would be an outright reckless decision to add another back-breaking load to our many other crushing financial burdens. Austerity, accountability and responsible spending go hand in glove together.

    Why are Sierra Leoneans so naive and infantile in their thinking? Solar energy is unreliable – its called a non-dependable energy source because it derives it effectiveness and potency strictly from the scorching Sun and warm favorable weather conditions. It simply means that at evening peak times, when the Sun has set and everyone is in their homes ‘Chilling’ – excessive consumption and demand will always cause fluctuations, and severe limitations in the supply of power being made readily available to all – it will become a consistent nightmare being experienced by millions of people nationwide.

    And the high cost of batteries for devices being used by households is another nerve-wrecking headache – not to mention replacement, maintenance, installation and servicing costs.

    We thank IGNITE for their thoughtful kindhearted gesture towards our country, but 55 million dollars as a start for an energy source that barely functions in cloudy whether is a complete ” Reap Off ” – robbery in broad daylight of the poor, wretched and miserable masses, dwelling in the ‘mountains of Sierra Leone’.

    I hope the SLPP government can find time to do their research thoroughly instead of making rash, poorly conceived, hasty decisions. There are so many cheaper dependable sources of energy we could harness for the benefit of Sa Lone – wind energy and a broad variety of fossil fuel uses are our cheapest options presently. Why not use them instead, while we are in the process of investing in the building of highly sophisticated, proficient dams for future generations to come.

    As I come to the end – the loudest and most enthusiastic shout-out today, going out to the Young Cubs of the APC in Parliament – keep your heads up, its all good! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Saidu, you have just shown how out of depth you are in solar technology. You may want to read up on how far the technology has come, especially in the use of photovoltaic cells for power storage.

      State of the art solar panels have brought the technology much closer to developing countries than it used to a few years ago. And the $55 million dollars mentioned is not bad an investment, compared to wind technology which, the cost of shipping to Sierra Leone alone in their thousands is questionable.

      I was in Denmark a few years ago on an exploration tour of the companies that manufacture wind turbines, so I know what I am talking about buddy.

      Whether using solar panels or wind turbines, the challenges of storage battery is roughly about the same. But as I said earlier without going into the technicalities, there are state of the art battery technologies that are making solar quite affordable, efficient and effective – good value for money, especially for domestic use.

      Why on earth you are accusing Ignite Power of ripping off the country, I have no idea. Perhaps you need to be less emotional in your analysis.

      I am APC. Where we went wrong as a government, is that we did not make use of the oppportunity to enter into largescale PPP arrangement such as this being offered by Ignite to address our energy problem using solar. We were awarded $18 million in Abu Dhabi in 2014 to establish solar farm in Freetown that could have powered over 20,000 homes but we blew the project. I dont even know what happened to that money. I feel ashamed as an APC supporter. We could have done so much more for the country.

      But I wish the Bio government well and hope they can learn from our mistakes.

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