Tag Archive for 'africa'

Changing Energy Use in Tanzania: EGG-Energy

Two years ago, eight individuals set out to re-think the way energy is used in Africa. They started with the 40 million people in Tanzania. Roughly 90% of Tanzanians do not have a connection to the electric grid. Most people use dim kerosene lanterns to light up their homes, and a mix of AA and old car batteries to power small devices such as radios, televisions, and cell phones.

Porch Light with Kerosene, used by 90% of Tanzanians. Photo by Eric Persha

Porch light with Kerosene, used by 90% of Tanzanians.
Photo by Eric Persha.

Porch Light with EGG Batteries

Porch Light Lit by EGG Batteries.
Photo by Eric Persha

This group of students built an organization that rents out rechargeable batteries (think Netflix for batteries). In 2009, they were awarded money from the IDEAS Competition to pursue their idea and earlier this year, Jamie Yang was awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship. EGG-Energy is now supplying over 300 customers in Tanzania with regular access to energy. We caught up with their team earlier this week on where they’re headed:

How did winning an IDEAS competition help you in starting EGG-energy?

One of the largest barriers to innovation and actually implementing new ideas is the lack of funding offered to groups that are still ‘figuring things out’. The money received by IDEAS helped pay for the EGG trip to Tanzania in which we started our pilot project. During this particular trip, we were able to identify a village that would be a good starting point of our operations and we now have over 300 customers.

You have traveled a lot to Tanzania. Do you remember the first time you brought EGG-energy to Tanzania? How did it compare with or challenge your business expectations and research?

We installed our first customers in August of 2009 in Mvuti, some 25 miles outside of Dar es Salaam. The event raised a lot of interest with dozens of people gathering around to see us do the installations for the few selected pilot customers. Probably two biggest surprises were first, how much interest there were for the service but how much the different needs varied. We heard requests from powering TV’s to security lighting from the very first day. Second, how far the reach of the community and village leadership go into the business, from approving locations to customer recommendations.

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Maker Faire Africa 2010: Call for Makers

Maker Faire Africa is a celebration of ingenuity and entrepreneurship across the African continent. It is inspired by the successful spread of DIY festivals known as Maker Faires across the United States (check out the latest on the New York City World Maker Faire in September).

The Maker Faire Africa (MFA) co-founding team of organizers (Emeka Okafor/TED Africa, Erik Hersman/Ushahidi, Emer Beamer/Butteryfly Works, Henry Barnor/GhanaThink, and Mark Grimes/Ned/NedSpace/NedWater) seek African innovators, inventors, and makers to participate in the second Maker Faire Africa event to be held in Nairobi, Kenya August 27-28th on the University of Nairobi campus.

To encourage African innovators, inventors and makers from all African countries to try to make it to this unique and one-of-a-kind event, they have some limited funds for those makers outside Nairobi requiring travel and accommodation assistance.

In addition, MFA10 organizers are trying as much as they can to locate and invite women innovators and makers. They’ve found that during last year’s event in Accra, Ghana locating women makers was a challenge, especially those outside arts/crafts categories.

Maker Faire Africa is a free event for all invited makers, innovators and inventors. All the makers that “applied” last year participated in the event. To view some images of the event in Accra, please visit the MFA site.

View the complete call for makers.