This is a moment that the goosebumps are guaranteed: It will get dark at night in Sirakoro. Malian village residents are clapping, cheering and celebrating. For the first time in Sirakoro’s history, there are reliable large light sources that are powered by diesel generators. Energy for street lamps is generated with the help of solar power in mobile solar containers.
Innovative power supply infrastructure
“Solartainers” are systems that can be set up within 48 hours, provide clean electricity throughout the village and cause big change for residents. For the people of Sirakoro, connection to an electricity grid means not only reliable light sources but also, for example, clean drinking water, farm irrigation and refrigeration options as well as access on the Internet. An innovative power supply infrastructure has also been created in the village: the generated electricity is intelligently distributed, controlled, monitored and charged throughout the village via a digital power grid with smart meter technology.
German Torsten Schreiber and his Mali-born wife Aida Schreiber had the idea in 2016. At that time, the couple began to set up the solar company Africa GreenTec (AGT), which provides electricity to more than 3 million people in Africa and they and those who want to open up new perspectives for the local economy.
“Imagine you have to set up your labor business in an African village and you don’t have reliable access to electricity. Your only option is a diesel generator. Due to the lack of infrastructure in your country, diesel is scarce and expensive. The generator is smelly, is loud, it pollutes the environment and your immediate neighborhood. Young people in particular do not have professional prospects. We’re changing that and creating new paths for thousands of people and an entire generation, ”Aida Schreiber said.
Crowdfunding for financing
In concrete terms, the idea works like this: Africa GreenTec sells its solar containers, which cost approximately 150,000 euros, and the electricity generated by them to a village community. Where there was still a shortage of purchasing power, AGT established a local operating company that initially funded the purchase and resale of electricity. The company secures part of its financing through crowdfunding, in which everyone can participate. The product is developed by the company’s employees, most of whom live in countries where Africa GreenTec is currently active. In addition to Mali, it is Niger, Chad, Madagascar and Senegal. And in the electrified villages, it will create new jobs for the people caring for the facilities of the German-African social enterprise.
In the next step, Torsten and Aida Schreiber also want to move production and management to Africa. To this end, AGT will build a new climate-neutral headquarters in Dakar, the capital of Senegal over the next three years. Over the past six years, the company has electrified more than 20 villages and given more than 100,000 people access to clean, reliable and relatively inexpensive electricity.
Irrigate the fields, cold crops
The solar containers each have a capacity of 50 kWp and provide up to 400 households, 40 small and medium -sized companies and ten social institutions with solar power. In addition to solar containers, AGT sells or rents water treatment systems, water pumps and cold stores, among other things. Farmers, for example, can more easily irrigate their fields and keep their crops cooler. By using lithium batteries for storage, people can use electricity even during the night hours. In the future, SecondLife storage will also be used from electric vehicles, to make the batteries last longer.
This gives many people in remote villages in the Sahel the opportunity to build their own livelihoods. A few years ago, Nassou Oumar from the Malian village of Djioliba, for example, saw no prospects in his home country and wanted to flee to Europe. He then found out about the power supply in his village, stayed and founded several companies with about 50 employees. “Electricity is the beginning of everything,” he wrote on the AGT website.