[Startup Interview] Tomiwa Majekodunmi, CEO, NASPA, Nigeria
At a time when the electricity needs of Africa continue to outstrip available supply, a company in Nigeria is investing in providing low cost, clean and sustainable energy to especially those not connected to the national grid.
National Solar Power Authority, NASPA, a pioneer startup in solar installations, is running an ambitious model of allowing customers access and pay electricity through recharge cards as is the case with mobile phone vouchers.
Tomiwa Majekodunmi the company’s CEO talked to Africa Business Communities about the pursuit to get everyone in Nigeria connected to solar energy, the milestones the company has made and the plans to scale the initiative to reach urban population and industries.
Tell us about National Solar Power Authority
National Solar Power Authority (NASPA) is Nigeria’s first national solar company. It was founded on the vision of electrifying millions and scaling the rate of solar installations in Nigeria and Africa. Currently Nigeria with a population of almost 200 million people produces less than half the electricity of Spain with about 50 million people.
Most of these people are in the rural areas. We are making electricity affordable to them by allowing customers to pay in increments through recharge cards just as they do with mobile phone bills. We also cater to urban, SME’s and large corporations.
Where is the company located?
We are in Plot 472 Kumasi. Wuse. Abuja, FCT. Nigeria
When was the company founded and why?
It was founded in 2016 informed by our need to harness sustainable electricity in Nigeria. We have been in darkness for years and it’s not changing anytime soon. It’s time to try something new and different.
Renewable energy is the future and solar can complement the national grid. It is just a matter of time before oil and gas, which are currently used in generating electricity, are depleted.
How is the company funded?
It is funded at the moment by private investment. We welcome investments from other organizations and the government.
What are your company’s unique selling points?
NASPA is Nigeria’s first national solar company. We are making solar affordable to Nigerians. Affordability of solar installations has been a major obstacle in scaling solar in Nigeria. NASPA is using PAYG to help rural customers pay for solar.
We offer free site audits to see how much customers can save on their electricity bills. Customers can now enjoy convenience, improved living conditions, 24/7electricity without interruptions from NASPA at a small price. We guarantee it will save them 40 per cent on their current electrification bills.
How has the market responded to your services?
It has been an impressive reception. We continue to educate our customers and the general public on the benefits of solar as it’s still a new way of generating electricity for most as opposed to the traditional electric grid.
There are over 600million individuals in Africa with little or no electricity and with most of these being in Nigeria, there is a huge market of people that need our services.
Who are your clients?
We focus on three sets of demographics. Our clients are people in the rural areas with no access to the grid, we also service urban areas and large commercial/industrial businesses who spend outrageous money each year on diesel and petrol for generators because of the abysmal power supply in the country.
What are the changes your company has gone through since inception and what do they mean to the business?
Since inception we have been able to secure a temporary office in a business district in the Federal Capital Territory. We have also been recognized as a top energy startup by the African Energy Ideas Competition (AEIC) along with showcasing the products and service our company at the recent Nigerian Energy Forum.
Have you had/or are you planning any strategic partnerships?
Yes we have a few partnerships but hope to partner with more important stakeholders in the renewable energy industry. NASPA believes partnerships with the government and other important stakeholders are vital to our vision. Some of our partners are the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), NIEEE and SunKing by Green Light Planet.
How is competition in your industry and how do you weather it?
In life there is always competition. Because solar electricity is a relatively new industry in Nigeria, we focus more on our mission and vision while keeping an eye out for our competitors. But the truth is the market is so huge that there is enough for everyone, it’s how you go about it. The goal is to solarize Nigeria, and partnerships are important.
What can be expected of your company in 2018?
You can expect to hear more about National Solar Power Authority (NASPA) as we expand and the good work we are doing. We believe we are just getting started. We are currently hiring more staff, and bringing in some of the best brains, engineers and technicians in the solar industry.
What does your company need to grow and prosper?
What we need is more support. Both social and financial support. We need people to know about our products and services we provide because it’s something that will truly benefit them in unimaginable ways. Due to the new industry we are in, we also need funding in form of grants, loans, venture capital, and equity to enable us to scale.
What is the latest news?
NASPA is expanding, we keep adding products and services to attract customers. We recently added energy management to our services for example. Now we also provide LED bulbs and dehumidifiers to our customers especially in the urban and commercial segments.
Who should contact your company and why?
People that want a better and improved way of living, convenience, or 24/7 electricity. Those who care about their environment, tired of dangerous fumes and noises from lanterns and generators.
Customers that are fed up of paying outrageous energy bills in the form of kerosene, petrol and diesel for lanterns, generators, inverters and so on. Businesses that want to provide better services to their customers while saving bundles of money each year on their electrification needs. This is money that can be reinvested in business operations.
Africa Business Communities is conducting a series of interviews with startup businesses in Africa.
Are you a startup in Africa and interested in an interview? Great! Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org