Reports indicate that by 2020, 77 percent of the world’s population will live in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, the average daily electricity supply in some of Africa’s largest cities is less than 12 hours. As a result, individuals and businesses find other options and alternatives to solve their energy issues, such as generators; However, these solutions can be expensive to use or affect the climate.
While solar grids and panels are another viable option with compelling use cases for end consumers, there is still an opportunity to launch products aimed at power distribution companies, and this is where Beacon Power Services (BPS) comes into play. Energy Tech, a company that provides data and grid management solutions to efficiently distribute electricity to Africa’s power sector, announced today that it has closed a $2.7 million seed round.
Founder and CEO Bimbola Addisa, an aerospace engineer, started the company in 2014 after several years working as a power turbine manufacturer and investment bank covering the energy sector in the US. Service providers and manufacturers. In an interview with TechCrunch, he said that these experiences exposed him to the application of technology in the electric power sector and that he saw an opportunity to implement that in Nigeria and across Africa.
BPS was launched in 2014 to address inadequate electricity supply by new power distribution companies. The utility company, based in the US and Nigeria, provides energy management software and analytics for utilities. Adora, an AI-enabled grid management platform, solves one of two fundamental problems facing power distribution companies in Africa.
The software provides electric utilities with real-time visibility into network performance and connects to every utility asset and customer node on the grid, allowing power providers to anticipate outages and identify network losses, respond quickly, and distribute electricity more efficiently. “The result is that utilities can run more efficiently, earn more revenue, and reduce outages, so customers get more electricity (provide more hours each day) so everyone wins,” BFS told TechCrunch about how Adora works.
Another problem is data-centric, with the company’s proprietary platform called Customer and Asset Information Management Systems (CAIMs). Utilities in Africa struggle to maintain an accurate database of their customers, assets and grid topology (the connections between assets and customers). CAIMs will address this by identifying specific situations in which African utilities operate, such as weak addressing systems, and helping them digitize their information to serve as a basis for network upgrades.
“Africa is home to some of the fastest growing cities in the world, but when most people think of energy access in Africa, they think of rural areas with little or no access to electricity. However, Africa’s development will be impossible if it does not significantly improve access to and reliability of electricity in its capital cities, CEO Addisa said in a statement. “Recognizing that solutions designed for mature markets cannot address the unique infrastructure challenges facing Africa, we developed a solution designed to improve the day-to-day supply of electricity to electricity companies across the continent.”
Addisa told TechCrunch that BPS has grown from one utility in Nigeria to four utilities covering more than 8 million customers (residential and commercial) in two countries, including Ghana. BPS’s business model involves working with its customers as partners for the long term, not just selling products, Adisa said. As such, the company can charge a service-based fee that matches the upfront cost of deploying the technology to the value it creates.
The eight-year-old energy services company says it stands out from other platforms because it offers “local solutions that impact the local operating environment in Africa”. For example, most off-the-shelf solutions for mature markets don’t account for the frequency of outages or network connectivity issues experienced in Africa, but BPS says its solutions address that.
The company’s seed round was led by Seedstars Africa Ventures with participation from Persistent Energy, Keppel Africa Ventures, Factor[e] and Oridun Capital Management. Commenting on the investment, Maxime Bowan, Managing Partner at Seedstars Africa Ventures, said: “As a society, we recognize that climate change is a major threat to our generation, and it is critical that we use smart capital to support entrepreneurs across Africa. They are creating innovative and local solutions to meet this challenge.
The new funding will allow BPS to improve its existing products (product upgrades to add new features and include automation) and expand into new markets beyond Nigeria and Ghana, where it is currently operating.