Photograph by Mick Wallace courtesy Impact Energies
Great Energy Challenge Innovator: Impact Energies
Project: First countrywide solar repair network in Africa
Location: Across the 10 regions of Ghana
Summary: Impact Energies will create the first countrywide repair network for solar lighting systems in Africa. Given that this is a nascent industry, there is a lack of trained technicians to maintain and repair solar systems. As a result, customers are dissatisfied when systems break down, creating a negative perception of the solar lighting industry. This slows the adoption and the ability to grow this market. Impact Energies will train a network of 100 technicians, set up a customer service call center and launch a marketing campaign to counteract this trend.
The key elements of the system include:
- Network of up to 100 technicians, at least 8 in each of 10 regions of Ghana, trained by Ghana's solar product dealers to repair their products
- Nationwide call center, with operators trained to diagnose simple problems and to direct customers to technicians if necessary
- Marketing campaign to inform customers about the call center. All solar distributors in Ghana will be invited to join the network, and will pay fees to cover the ongoing costs of the call center and follow-up trainings. Results of the project will be measured by monthly volume of calls to the call center, SMS tracking of technicians, an online portal showing the data visually and quarterly random caller-satisfaction surveys.
Goal: Create the first ever countrywide solar repair network in Africa
Project Background: Impact Energies, a distributor of solar products in Ghana, helps customers access affordable solar products on credit, via microfinance banks. Initially based in Ghana, Impact Energies handles all links of the supply chain so that its partners-microfinance banks and NGOs-do not have to do so. This includes product sourcing and importing, branch delivery, proprietary inventory management software, sales training, and warranty support. Impact Energies will take advantage of existing distribution and financing networks, which will increase the potential to expand. The solar repair network will help both Impact Energies and other solar distributors in Ghana improve their capacity to support warranties in remote regions.
Project participants: Impact Energies (Hugh Whalan, CEO; Nate Heller, West Africa Director)
The Great Energy Challenge grant program, in collaboration with a distinguished group of scientists acting as the board of advisors, awards roughly a half-dozen grants per year. The goal of the grant program is to hasten the growth of promising, global energy solutions as a response to climate change, energy resource constraints and environmental limitations.