An East Africa Branch for Connected Energy
Exciting times are coming for Connected Energy, as the market introduction of our products approaches. In addition to India, we see enormous potential in the Off-grid and Biogas sectors in East Africa for both our products; Cloud Solar and Smart Biogas.
There is no better way to get to know the sector and the market than by actually being in the midst of the action. All the more reason for Connected Energy to open a branch in the East African region. For the time being we have chosen to do this in Kigali, Rwanda.
We are pleased to announce that from April 1st Connected Energy now also has established an office in East Africa.
We thought hard about the options before choosing Rwanda at our base to serve the East African market. The investment climate for startups like ours is extremely attractive in Rwanda. It is relatively easy to travel to the surrounding countries and also to distribute our products there with Kigali as a home basis. The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is keen to support startups and new investors and help them to find the way on “how to do business”. Rwanda has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to corruption and fraud, which is an important point for Connected Energy as well. Traveling around is easy and safe, it is a clean and comfortable place to stay and to do start initial business and explore the region. Road links with the neighbouring markets are good.
We are almost certain that we will find reliable partners in our sector here to set up pilots with both Smart Biogas network monitoring and Cloud Solar Pay-as-you-go. We plan large-scale real live pilots for our products and expect to learn a lot from this to refine the quality of our hardware and software.
Despite of all the good words, as other countries in the region there are also some specific disadvantages and there is one particular for having an office established in Rwanda. The country is landlocked, sandwiched between Burundi, DRC, Tanzania and Uganda. That means that all of our imported products come via the airport. Another option is to import larger volumes of products by shipment. Then the cargo still has to travel 1700 kilometers by road from the harbour at Mombasa or Dar-es-Salam all the way to Kigali. That makes importing relatively expensive, a disadvantage that affects everyone.
My first experiences in Rwanda goes back exactly ten years ago, working in the Banking industry. It is an enormously rich experience to see how a small country like Rwanda developed in such a short time and it is exciting to be part of it. It is here where we find the benefits of that grow and improvements for a startup company as well. Despite the fact that many people live off-grid in remote rural areas, the infrastructure in the city has improved enormously and electricity is quite stable. For us, as a tech company, a fast and stable internet connection is of vital importance, since we communicate a lot with our other international offices and partners. Here, too, Kigali has our backs.