By Maduka Nweke

The African Development Bank (AfDB), has said that Nigerians spend about $14 billion on generators and fuel yearly yearly to give power to their homes and businesses.

The  reason is because the failure of the government to provide adequate power to run their SME businesses has compelled them to resort to alternative power.

SMEs play a vital role in driving economic growth and job creation on the continent. Connecting SMEs to alternative energy sources helps to minimise downtime and increase productivity.

According to Emmanuel Ekwueme, CEO at ICE Commercial Power, Africa faces an enormous energy challenge, with growing populations and an infrastructure that is often unreliable. Modern renewable power options can bring electricity and development opportunities to areas that have never enjoyed those benefits, spur economic and industrial growth, and support increased growth across the continent.

He said, “ICE has partnered with Microsoft to develop a robust cloud and software back-end to support the maintenance and management of deployed solar microgrids in the field. In addition, we are working with Microsoft to scale our youth training and employment efforts in target communities. Our work on the Ignite programme has led to the digital upskilling of 47 youth to canvass three communities and identified 12,885 underserved microbusinesses for deployment”.

ICE Commercial Power, a Nigerian-based renewable energy provider, has a bold mission to connect the unconnected. The company develops solar energy projects that allow small businesses and underserved communities to connect to reliable and affordable clean energy, monitor their energy usage online and better manage their power consumption. Businesses participating in the programme can see exactly how much power they are consuming, and the associated cost.

Before partnering with Microsoft, ICE had deployed an early pilot project as a proof-of-concept for their new model for off-grid electrification at the last-mile. For this work, ICE deployed 20 solar microgrids connecting 170 underserved microbusinesses across three communities. However, the company found that much of their maintenance and operational procedures had several manual steps and required considerable human intervention to ensure a smooth customer experience for connected microbusinesses.

Pre-installation, the ICE team discovered that the process of sourcing prospective microgrid sites and potential customers simultaneously across several target communities requires the collection and analysis of large datasets of hyperlocal geospatial and demographic data. This process can often be very fragmented and cumbersome. Strong community engagement and the accurate surveying of target last-mile communities leads to effective go-to-market strategies to support the deployment of distributed microgrids at scale. 

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Source: news