The world is running out of fossil fuels and alternative energy sources have been the main focus in the energy sector for the past decade or so. Even then, renewable alternative energy sources are still out of the reach of the financially unstable, still a luxury.
In areas like West Africa, electricity itself is considered a luxury. People walk miles and miles from rural areas to get their cellphone batteries charged. Africa has long been a target of fake, money-grabbing NGOs who haven’t done an ounce of good to the public, only leeching away natural resources and government funds to fill their own coffers.
It was quite understandable then, that the residents of rural parts of Senegal were sceptical of Daniel Rosa’s Y-Combinator backed startup Oolu, which means ‘trust’ in the main local language there. Oolu promises to bring affordable solar energy systems to rural parts of West Africa, where people live on about $1000 a year without proper access to electricity, hampering all kinds of growth.Oolu only charges a nominal monthly fee which it claims saves the families 60% of their monthly electricity expenditures. The figure varies by location though.
Solar energy isn’t the main focus of the startup, though. Oolu’s main aim is to bring about a significant improvement in the lives of the residents of rural areas. Affordable solar energy is just the first step, says Rosa. The technology they’re using has already been tried and tested in East Africa so it’s nothing new. Oolu is also partnering with Senegalese money transfer company Orange Money to set up a funds distribution and money transfer network that the local people are comfortable with.
Oolu co-founder Nilmi Seraratna has had ample experience of what it’s like to have no electricity during his endeavors to educate children living in Senegal”s rural areas. Teaching students with a cell phone flashlights and candles as the only means of illumination, Seraratna understands the hardships that the rural Senegalese people face on a daily basis. And he’s doing his to best to make life better than them. We wish him and the rest of the Oolu team the best of luck!