Friends Turned Co-Founders Create Energy Solutions to Change Lives in Africa

Benedict Owanga and Chinelo Adi, friends turned entrepreneurs, founded Owanga Solar to address Africa’s energy crisis and severe need for power. The duo founded a climate tech company that leases out portable solar-powered batteries to users in response to insufficient power generation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other parts of Africa.

The project is being carried out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa’s second largest country with an estimated 112 million people. Only roughly 19% of that population has access to power. As a result, many citizens resort to dangerous methods of generating power, such as kerosene and candles. Others are also confronted with high-priced alternatives, such as generators, which reportedly cost $30 per day to run.

“Owanga is an on demand electricity service. When you look at Africa, the biggest issue that we currently face is the lack of electricity, and this leads to a lot of people using inefficient ways to maintain that, such as kerosene generators and candles,” the founders told DivInc in an interview.

“So our solution allows customers to rent out our portable battery packs for $2 a day and it has the capacity to power up a one bedroom house or an entire shop in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” they added.

According to Emory Law News Center, Owanga solar-powered batteries may power an entire home or store for roughly two dollars per day with a seven-day rental minimum, or the batteries are permanently placed in the premises.

Owanga Solar’s vision is to not only ensure that everyone has access to clean energy, but also to be the top renewable energy provider in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a focus on sustainability, social responsibility, and customer happiness.

The piece was inspired by Owanga’s personal experience while conducting his internship. He lost power for two hours, and it took him roughly two weeks to completely comprehend what he was doing at work.

“This really got me thinking,” he said. “I lost power for two hours and it took me two weeks just to do something that’s really basic. What about people that don’t have power for months or for years, where are they in life? This led me down the rabbit hole of a lot of research on renewable energy and how different communities work when they don’t have power.”

He then approached Adi with the idea, and she was intrigued, resulting in the birth of Owanga Solar. Working with Emory Hatchery, the team presented a pitch deck to DivInc for the Accelerator Program, which was accepted.

The DivInc Accelerator Program is a twelve-week “focuses on diverse founders at the forefront of clean energy with focus on climate change solutions, clean energy production, energy storage and transmission, energy efficiency, carbon economy, sustainable/smart cities, and deployment of clean technologies for historically marginalized communities,” according to its website. Participants receive a variety of advantages totaling more than $100,000.

Written by PH

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