Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the world’s population without access to electricity was 77% in 2020, according to reports. Also, the average daily electricity supply in some of Africa’s largest cities is less than 12 hours. As a result, individuals and businesses are finding other options and replacements, such as generators, to solve their power problems; however, these solutions can be expensive to run or affect the climate.
While solar grids and panels are another viable option and have compelling use cases for end users, there is still an opportunity to launch products targeting power distribution companies, and it is true Beacon Power Services (BPS) is playing. The energy technology company, which provides data and network management solutions to help the African energy sector distribute electricity more efficiently, today announces that it has closed a $2.7 million starting round.
Founder and CEO Bimbola Adisa, an aerospace engineer, started the company in 2014 after several years working for an energy turbine manufacturer and as an investment banker doing the energy sector in the US. For the latter, most of its customers were electricity companies, service providers and manufacturers. In an interview with gotechbusiness.com, he said these experiences introduced him to the application of technology in the energy sector, and he saw an opportunity to apply that in Nigeria and across Africa.
Adisa launched BPS in 2014 to address the inadequate electricity supply of power distribution companies. The US and Nigeria-based utility provides energy management software and analytics for utilities. The AI-enabled network management platform, Adora, solves one of two fundamental problems facing energy distribution companies in Africa.
The software provides real-time visibility into network performance for utility companies and connects to all utility and customer nodes on the grid, enabling utility providers to prevent outages, identify network losses, respond quickly, and distribute electricity more efficiently. “As a result, utilities can operate more efficiently, generate more revenue, and by reducing outages, customers get a greater supply of electricity (more hours per day), so everyone wins,” BFS said in an email response to gotechbusiness.com. how Adora works.
The other problem is data-centric and is addressed by the company’s proprietary platform called Customer and Asset Information Management System (CAIMs). Utilities in Africa struggle to maintain an accurate database of their customers, assets, and network topology (the relationship between assets and customers). The CAIMs solve this by taking into account the unique circumstances in which African utilities operate, for example poor address systems, and help them digitize their data, which serves as the basis for network improvements.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing cities in the world, but when most people think of energy access in Africa, they think of the rural areas with little or no access to electricity. However, it is impossible for Africa to develop without significantly improving access to electricity and reliability in major cities,” CEO Adisa said in a statement. “When we realized that solutions designed for mature markets are not meeting the unique infrastructure challenges facing Africa, we developed a tailor-made solution for energy companies on the continent to improve the day-to-day electricity supply of the grid.”
Adisa told gotechbusiness.com that BPS has grown from a single utility in Nigeria to four utilities in two countries, including Ghana, serving more than 8 million customers (residential and corporate). BPS’s business model means that we work with its customers in the long term as partners, not just to sell products, Adisa said. As such, the company can defer most of the initial cost of deploying its technology in exchange for service-based payments commensurate with the value it creates.
The eight-year-old energy company says it differs from other platforms because it “provides local solutions that take into account the local business environment in Africa.” For example, most off-the-shelf solutions made for mature markets do not take into account the frequency of outages in Africa or the experienced network communication problems, but BPS claims its solutions have solved that.
The company’s seed round was led by Seedstars Africa Ventures with participation from Persistent Energy, Kepple Africa Ventures, Factor[e] and Oridun Capital Management. Speaking about the investment, Maxime Bouan, managing partner at Seedstars Africa Ventures, said: “As a society, we have recognized climate change as one of the greatest threats to our generation, and it is critical that we use smart capital to support entrepreneurs across Africa who create innovative and localized solutions to meet this challenge.”
The new funding would allow BPS to enhance its current products (product upgrades to add new features and include automation) and expand into new markets outside Nigeria and Ghana, where it currently operates.