Africa GreenTec installs first solar container in Niger

After the launch of the project in Mali in 2014, the start-up Africa GreenTec has now successfully commissioned its first solar container in the Tahoua region of Niger. The container relies on a mobile 41-kWp photovoltaic installation and a 60-kWh battery storage system to provide electricity to the village of Amaloul Nomade, which is not connected to the national grid. Thanks to solar power, residents of the village can now work and learn, even after dark. The construction, transport and installation of the 40-foot solar container was made possible by private investors and the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Investment addresses the causes of flight

90 percent of African refugee routes pass through Niger, the country with the lowest development index in the world. This has prompted the German federal government to focus on Niger as well as Mali in its efforts to mitigate the causes of flight to Europe.

The solar container is being installed as part of a programme to promote climate partnerships with the private sector, which is being conducted by the German Investment and Development Company (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG)) as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) is supporting the initiative on the basis of a decision by the German Bundestag.

“We can offer the local people a bit of comfort, access to education and knowledge, and new prospects – today, all of these things are especially dependent on a reliable supply of electricity,” says Torsten Schreiber, Founder and CEO of Africa GreenTec. “Rather than just discussing the causes of flight, our joint investment in Niger effectively combats them.”

Challenging delivery conditions

Delivering the solar container presented difficulties for Africa GreenTec. “The last 75 kilometres of desert roads were a huge challenge for the lorries. In addition, we were unable to use any cranes on site and so had to rely on our own lifting system,” Schreiber explains. The team also had to contend with high temperatures during installation, which had to take place during the day, as power was not yet available. “In the end, we succeeded and were able to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of self-generated power with the residents of Amaloul Nomade,” says Schreiber.

Cheap and reliable power for local residents

The solar container and storage system allows the residents of Amaloul Nomade, where daytime temperatures are around 45°C, to move activities to the evening hours, when temperatures are cooler. Social life no longer ends when the sun sets at 6:00pm. Instead the village now comes alive under the glow of electric lights. Residents use the electricity for radios, televisions and fans. Children go to school in the evenings, and tradesmen, hairdressers and café owners improve their businesses with electric devices. Moreover, village residents have access to satellite-supported internet for the first time.

In contrast to diesel engines, renewable energy provides residents with a cheaper, cleaner and quieter source of power, and frees them from reliance on diesel deliveries, which are often delayed and expensive.

To ensure that the installation runs smoothly and sustainably, Africa GreenTec has hired a guard and an electrician, who will receive training from the German social enterprise. A supervisor from the regional capital of Tahoua will also care for the installation. The output and condition of the system can be checked via satellite from Germany.