Energy News — 31 January 2017

-ePower Holdings, South Africa’s renewable energy supplier is breaking the barriers of social entrepreneurship by being the face of innovative enterprise development that is changing the complexion of South African communities that are still subject to conditions of extreme poverty.

This enterprising organisation is not only changing people’s lives but is also looking to partner with like-minded investors in the energy sector who are committed to creating opportunities for entrepreneurs in the rural markets of South Africa and the rest of Africa.

The industry continues to grow largely thanks to support from businesses and government who increasingly regard it as a cost-effective alternative energy generator with huge potential to help deliver lower-cost energy, encourage job creation and stimulate local economies.

As a specialty provider and integrator of Renewable Energy systems designed for developing communities, ePower has positioned itself to capitalize on this explosive trend and has established a number of renewable energy projects in South Africa to empower underdeveloped communities.

“They are many opportunities for people to get involved in solar products. ePower is a solar business for people to get involved with as it can be profitable and sustainable for African markets,” says Tariq Yusuf, the co-founder of ePower Holdings.

How is it changing the faces of these communities?

ePower is working tirelessly to empower the world’s underdeveloped communities through the application of solar energy as an alternative to paraffin, gas, candles which often have disastrous consequences for the people who use them. One third of the world’s population has no electricity, and the same applies for South Africa. The majority of these people live in rural, remote areas of South Africa.

In informal settlements in Gauteng such as Mooiplaas, just outside of Centurion as well as Soshanguve in Pretoria, ePower has introduced affordable electricity solutions in the form of a solar powered community centre set-up on a 40-foot container where services such as mobile phone battery charging, free Wi-Fi connectivity, internet browsing are available to the public.

“We have rolled out three ePower containers this year, two in South Africa (Mooiplaas and Soshanguve) and one in Zambia. We have interest for five more to be rolled out in Botswana during the first quarter of 2017 and we have another going to Namibia. These are exciting times for our business,” explains Yusuf.

Yusuf further describes the intricacies of starting a business in the Solar industry in South Africa:

“A solar energy business can be exciting and rewarding with impressive growth potential. Most Solar energy businesses generally require a heavy initial investment, but a number of grants and tax incentives help solar energy companies to get off the ground. We entered this industry because it offers a range of benefits to business, utility companies and households, including the 100 percent renewable nature of the energy source. On top of that, we went the social entrepreneurship route because we want to make the world a better place and bring necessities to people who need them the most, all while ensuring that it makes business,” he explains.

Maybin Madiba Mudenda, a businessman from Zambia who specialises in private equity and has invested in some of the ePower projects in his home country has this to say:

“This is a sustainable project that can help a lot of rural communities who are not connected to the grid. Zambia is also facing many power challenges even with the people that are connected to the grid.  In addition, it is a good business investment with good returns.

“It’s clean energy, it is environmentally friendly and the cost of power generation are low.

“There are almost 11 million people living off the grid in Zambia. I think it will create a difference in the way people are living and thinking as they will now have access to power albeit in a small way.  This means access to TV, Wi-Fi connection and many additions to come. To conclude I would like to see the ePower project work in rural Africa with the support of the international donors, young entrepreneurs and government support,” concludes Mudenda.

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