9 months ago

BusinessDay 13 April 2018


14 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 Friday 13 April 2018 Policy Investments Market Insight Influencers INSIGHT Arnergy pushes for solar power for productive use ISAAC ANYAOGU Arnergy Solar Limited, a solar power firm providing solar home system says its recent acquisition of an Internet of Things enabled platform has put the company’s valuation at over $50m. According to a recent release by the company, the IoT technology developed along with its partners offers anyone who wants to play in the power sector an opportunity to do so. “What we are doing is new and revolutionary. We have built a platform to bring everybody who desires to play in the sector on board, this includes: existing solar players, be it an inverter supplier, solar panel manufacturers, even those in oil and gas, can come together to create a system that provides power to our people,” a co-founder of the firm, Femi Adeyemo. Adeyemo also said the opportunity in the off grid market to power Nigerians is bigger than what was experi- Offgrid solar in Nigeria: Enablers and hurdles Nigeria as a country is more populous than the entire economic bloc of East African Community (EAC). Relatedly, Nigeria’s GDP is 250% of EAC’s GDP (405 USD & 159 USD [2016 values]). This data paints a nice portrait of the sheer size of the Nigerian market from a sector-agnostic perspective. But there is a consensus that Nigeria’s major hurdle to economic development is its very poor level of energy access. Nigeria was recently ranked as one of the countries with the worst electricity supply in the world, according to a 2017 report by Spectator Index. These statistics clearly outline the enormous potential and necessity of the energy investment opportunities in Nigeria. Especially off grid solar investment which has proved to be relatively easy, affordable and efficiently scalable. Consequently, Nigeria’s promising off grid solar market has attracted - and continues to attract - investments, although real hurdles remain. Macroeconomic problems, regulatory constraints and the typical challenges of a nascent market are still vis- enced in the Telecoms sector. “If the four big operators in the telecom space has spent billions and we still have a lot of places without mobile network, it means the amount of money and capacity of enterprises needed to power Nigeria is huge,” said Adeyemo. To achieve this objective, the company inviting partners as channel managers who may not have prior experience in providing power to become resellers after acquiring the system. Resellers can log on to the portal and monitor power consumption and connectivity in real time. “The good thing is that we have a platform that is ible. However, in spite of the hurdles, market players are making significant progress. Off grid solar developments will be one of the highlighted topics in this year’s edition of The Solar Future Nigeria, the largest solar PV focused industry event in Nigeria, which is hosted by global PV knowledge platform Solarplaza in Abuja on the 15th and 16th of May. Around the world, the off grid solar space is continuously being buoyed by adjacent developments in technology and consumer preferences. From the role of innovative Fintech solutions, to the progress witnessed in mobile penetration; market enablers are emerging in Nigeria, which continuously redefines its frontiers. One of the most bullish off grid solar brands in the Nigerian market is Azuri Technologies. Their market footprint perfectly juxtaposes the opportunities and challenges inherent in the Nigerian off grid solar market. Vera Nwanze, General Manager Azuri Technologies West Africa says that “Nigeria is a ready market for solar energy. On-grid energy by itself cannot produce and is not robust enough to sup- scalable as we see the next phase of the offgrid market is to develop solar power for productive uses,” says a cofounder of Arnergy Solar Ltd, Kunle Odebunmi, a trained accountant. The company says it has created flexible pricing options for different power needs ranging from 300 watts to 5KVA which vary depending on if one is leasing or paying for our right purchase. Lease facility for end users on 300watts is N3,300 monthly, 1KVA system users pay N12,500 monthly, equivalent to paying N500 daily for a petrol generator. The lease for 2KVA system is N18,000 per port the population growth”. Nigeria’s population is projected to reach 400 million by 2050 which directly increases the potential size of the market. Vera explains that “Government focus is to improve grid capacity, while supporting off-grid energy initiatives. With a population of about 180 million and over 50% living without electricity, Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa for off-grid solutions. As a result, the renewable energy policy was drafted with an emphasis on diversifying the energy mix. This has seen increased interest in the sector, thereby precipitating increased investment and interest” With evident enablers and numerous risks as well, how are market players and current investors navigating the path towards profitability? Nigeria as a country is somewhat remarkable with policy ambivalence and even insensitivity in some cases. Some economic and non-economic incentives that off grid investors vie for (and which are already given in other African markets) appear elusive. For example, market operators are presently confronting the Nigerian authorities on a month, 3KVA goes for N36,000 monthly while 5KVA systems goes for N69,000 monthly. End users do not pay additional cost for maintenance and replacement of defective parts. Those who want outright purchase pay higher for the system. “We guarantee between 12-24 hours of power supply depending on usage, part of what we teach is energy efficiency, the era has gone where you use 60 watts incandescent bulb or you put on air conditioners when you are not around. When you conserve the power you can better utilse the system,” says Adeyemo. On the level of enthusiasm for the service, Adeymo said, “We have built a platform that can accommodate as much channel partners as possible. We understand that some of them may not have enough technical experience and we have in-house training team that trains channel partners on how to install and run the system. We currently have 25 channel partners in two months end users are projected to reach 3,000 in a few months.” recent increase in import duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) on imported solar components and accessories. Proponents of the new policy argue that it is geared towards encouraging local manufacturing of solar equipment while investors believe it’s a major distortion to current market prices and existing cost structures; given the heavy reliance on imported components by most off grid solar companies. On the key challenges in the Nigerian market, Azuri technologies listed “Mobile money challenges (as payment option); Lack of financial support from the banks; Lack of awareness; Non-clarity on duty charges and poor ease of doing business” as operator constraints. This is apparent. Since solar off grid operators began to leverage Fintech for reaching previously inaccessible communities – mainly rural – a new category of customers has opened up. But, in spite of the inherent promise of technologies such as mobile money, Nigeria is yet to attain universal access to mobile money and its usefulness is further constrained by limited user awareness, which in turn lowers their relevance Clean Tech Hub, Heinrich Boell Foundation holds workshop on used batteries ISAAC ANYAOGU Many say a downside to the current growth of the renewable energy industry, especially solar adoption in the country is the that danger of improper disposal of used lead acid batteries (ULA- Bs) constitute to the country. Nigeria generates over 200,000 tonnes of used acid batteries every year according to a research by Reddin Recycling Industries and many of these are end up being recycled in the country by informal recyclers who seek to extract the lead for exports outside Nigeria. However the challenge is batteries are one of the most hazardous wastes and constitute to danger to humans and the environment. “The steady growth of the renewable energy industry in Nigeria has not only driven energy access to the unserved and underserved, but has contributed to the country’s economic growth and reduction in the use of polluting, costly, inefficient power alternatives such as petrol/diesel generators and kerosene lamps,” says a release by Clean Tech Hub and the Heinrich Boell Foundation who are organising a workshop to discuss ULABs and utility for scaling off grid solar operations. Innovation seems to be the key answer, and companies like Azuri are moving forward with that. The company says it’s addressing constraints “with an innovative product, [such as] an individual solar home plant via PayGo as an “instant relief”, with no need for infrastructure or centralised planning” Rightly said: a growing mobile penetration, aided by Fintech and Pay As You Go solutions, typically combine to solve major challenges for operators. Specifically problems of revenue collection and the operator’s ability to better structure payments (that are related to acquisition/usage of solar products). Proud of their footprints in Nigeria, Vera says “With about one year in Nigeria, in a strategic partnership with REA/NDPHC and ASPNL as our distributor, we can proudly say that we have recorded a transformative presence in 12 Nigerian states, with deployment of 20,000 individual solar home systems and entrenching PayGo as an alternative which has impacted about 100,000 people and created over 500 job opportunities, management. “However the growing waste stream of used lead-acid batteries (ULAB) in the industry most of which are improperly disposed of or end up with illegal smelters and recyclers has led to growing environmental, health and safety concerns threatening the image of the “clean” energy industry. “Local and international organizations, donor agencies, financiers, civil societies and stakeholders in the industry are increasing demanding that renewable energy companies show proper management of ULAB and other potentially hazardous components. Clean Tech Hub and the Heinrich Boell Foundation is inviting stakeholders to the Workshop on Standardizing Best Practices for the Life-Cycle Management of Used Lead Acid Batteries (ULAB) for Renewable Energy Companies. According to the organisers, the workshop will highlight the work of the Heinrich Boell Foundation over the past two years in developing proper ULAB management for the sector, and propose standard ULAB management practices particularly in disposal and recycling for the sector. It will be held on April 17, in Lagos. especially in the rural communities.” On the medium term Azuri hopes to leverage market enablers “to reach over 1 million households that the grid can not, or will not, reach and as such compliment the grid gaps” and “On the long term; have a local presence in Nigeria with a manufacturing plant for export into the other West Africa countries.” With more than 80 million Nigerians living without electricity, according to a World Bank report, the opportunity for off grid solar investment is great. The market will surely gain greater traction if the government strives to improve the overall market conditions. It’s imperative that the progress made so far will be sustained through more friendly regulations that increase the ease of doing solar business in Nigeria. It’s also evident that consumer awareness will continue to expand as operators consistently apply innovative solutions for transforming market hurdles to key enablers. - Solarplaza, written ahead of its Solar Future Nigeria conference which will hold on May 15, 16, 2018 in Abuja. Isaac Anyaogu, Email:, 07037817378, Graphics: Joel Samson

Friday 13 April 2018 C002D5556 BUSINESS DAY 15 FINTECH News Products Review Technology Review Personality Review Company Review PRODUCTS REVIEW Ecobank Mobile app sees 9m transactions in 18 months Stories by FRANK ELEANYA Customers in 33 African countries have processed nine million transactions worth over $1 billion using the Ecobank Mobile Application. In an announcement sent to BusinessDay on Monday, 9 April, Ecobank said the achievement is coming barely eighteen months of the unveiling of the app. According to the company, about 4 million Ecobank Xpress accounts has been opened across the Ecobank Mobile App and USSD platforms. The Ecobank Mobile App enables users to transfer money instantly within the bank locally or across Africa using a feature known as the Ecobank RapidTransfer. “Consumers may also make transfers to other local bank accounts, mobile wallets and to Visa cardholders using Visa Direct on the Ecobank Mobile App,” the bank statement noted. “The app offers easy payments using Ecobank Scan+Pay through Masterpass, mVisa and Mcash, and has options to pay utility bills, school fees, subscriptions, make donations, buy airtime instantly and generate payment tokens using Ecobank Xpress Cash to do cardless ATM withdrawals or at an Ecobank Xpress point.” BusinessDay study finds that the Ecobank Mobile App has been downloaded more than 1 million times and was last updated on March 10, 2018 on the Google Play Store. Ade Ayeyemi, CEO of Ecobank stated that the bank has processed almost as many transactions on the Ecobank Mobile App in the first few months of 2018 as they did in the second half of 2017. “We aim to be the leading consumer financial services franchise in Africa and have developed a range of products and services relevant to meeting the daily banking, financing, investment and transactional needs of our customers,” Patrick Akinwuntan, group executive, Consumer Banking of Ecobank said. “The Ecobank Mobile App provides easy access to these services anytime and anywhere.” Meanwhile, customer rating of the Ecobank Mobile App on the Google Play Store and Apple Store is 4.0. Majority of reviews highlighted slowness and crashing problems with the latest version of the app. COMPANY REVIEW Diamond Bank’s Tech Fest to create opportunities for start-ups Diamond Bank said it is organising a Tech Fest to showcase technological solutions for businesses, connect technology providers with new markets, provide accessto-market opportunities for tech start-ups in Nigeria. The bank’s CEO Uzoma Dozie disclosed this at the launch of the event that is set for 15 to 16 of May 2018 at the Landmark Event Center, Oniru, Lagos. “Tech Fest for me is a platform that we can share with our customers to help them get the best of technology and to partner together to run better businesses,” Uzoma said. “If there is one thing we have learned at Diamond, it is that you cannot do everything on your own and you need to collaborate if you are going to win and be the best at what you do.” Diamond is partnering with MTN, Visa, Microsoft, NIBSS, Deloitte and Touche, Interswitch and Beat FM for the Tech Fest. Emezino Afiegbe, country director, Visa, expressed his excitement at the partnership. According to him, Visa will provide support to retail customers and consumers to make payment seamlessly, securely and as quick as possible. “We believe that if they can make payment quickly and safely, we are sure that the GDP will grow for not just the country but also prosperity in the region,” Afiegbe said. “It all starts here and we are happy to be part of this journey. We go into the future.” Tech Fest is open to all who want to connect, collaborate and co-create new ideas that solve real problem for Nigeria. “I call it Tech Fest 2018 because we believe the conversation will be sustained. Essentially for us at Interswitch, it is about curiosity, collaboration, and co-creation,” Tomi Ogunlesi, corporate brand manager, Interswitch said. “We are happy to work with Diamond Bank and other partners to make this happen.” NEWS Social video audience in Africa, ME second-largest in the world Internet users in Africa and Middle East account for the second-largest consumers of social videos in the world. The top position goes to people in Latin America, according to a new report on Online TV consumption released by GlobalwebIndex on Tuesday, 10 April 2018. The report showed that 67 percent of people in the two regions have watched a video on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat in the month of March. Social TV consumption has also seen consistent growth in three years. In 2015 it grew by 38 percent, 2016 by 51 percent and 56 percent in 2017. While Latin America led the charts with 71 percent growth, Europe took the last position with 44 percent rise. Asia Pacific (excluding China) saw an increase of 56 percent, just behind North America at 57 percent. GlobalwebIndex predicts that, should the trend continue, mainstream TV could easily transfer over to the social platforms which many already use for watching videos. “Social TV will bring new opportunities for marketers – increased reach, more data and refined targeting,” the authors of the report noted. Generally, online TV audiences are increasing across the world further shrinking the monopoly of broadcast. The advent of online TV has increased flexibility in choices of TV people watch. The report found that almost 90 percent of those who watch catch-up or TV subscription services also watch broadcast TV weekly. The number of people that prefer broadcast alone has declined to only 10 percent, whereas only 3 percent express preference for online TV only.

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April 2018
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