77% of the global population without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa according to 2020 Report. In addition, some large cities in Africa have an average daily electricity supply of less than 12 hours. As a result, individuals and businesses look to other options and alternatives, such as generators, to solve their power problems; however, these solutions are either expensive to use or climate-impacting.
While solar grids and panels are another viable option and offer a compelling use case for the end consumer, there is still an opportunity to roll out products aimed at distribution companies, which is Beacon Power Services (BPS) playback. The energy technology company that provides data and grid management solutions to help the African power sector distribute electricity more efficiently announced today that it has closed a $2.7 million seed round.
Founder and CEO bimbola adisaAs an aerospace engineer, he started a power turbine manufacturer in 2014 after working for a few years and worked as an investment banker in the US covering the power industry. For the latter, most of his clients include power companies, service providers and manufacturers. In an interview with TechCrunch, he said these experiences exposed him to the application of technology in the power sector, and he saw opportunities to apply the technology in Nigeria and throughout Africa.
Adisa launched BPS in 2014 to address the issue of insufficient electricity supply by distribution companies. The U.S. and Nigeria-based utility company provides energy management software and analytics to utilities. Its AI-enabled grid management platform, Adora, solves one of two fundamental problems facing distribution companies in Africa.
The software provides utilities with real-time visibility into network performance and connects to every utility asset and customer node on the grid, enabling energy providers to preempt outages and identify network losses, respond quickly and distribute power more efficiently. “The result is that utilities can operate more efficiently, recover more revenue, and with fewer outages, customers get more power supply (more hours of supply per day), so everyone wins,” BFS said in an email In reply to TechCrunch about how Adora works.
Another problem is data-centric, addressed by the company’s proprietary platform Customer and Asset Information Management Systems (CAIMs). Utilities in Africa struggle to maintain accurate databases of their customers, assets, and grid topology (the relationship between assets and customers). CAIMs address this by taking into account the unique conditions in which African utilities operate, such as poor address systems, and helping them digitize data, which is fundamental to network improvements.
“Africa is home to some of the fastest growing cities in the world, but when most people think about energy supply in Africa, they think of rural areas with little or no electricity supply. However, without significant improvements in electricity in major cities Africa cannot develop without supply and reliability,” chief executive Adisa said in a statement. “When we realized that solutions designed for mature markets could not solve the unique infrastructure challenges facing Africa, we developed tailor-made solutions for the continent’s power companies to improve daily grid supply.”
Adisa told TechCrunch that BPS has grown from one utility in Nigeria to four in two countries, including Ghana, covering more than 8 million customers (residential and business). Adisa said BPS’ business model requires working with customers as long-term partners, not just selling products. As a result, the company can defer much of the upfront cost of deploying its technology in exchange for service-based payments commensurate with the value it creates.
The eight-year-old energy utility said it is different from other platforms because it offers “local solutions that take into account the local operating environment in Africa”. For example, most off-the-shelf solutions created for mature markets do not take into account the frequency of outages or network communication problems encountered in Africa, but BPS claims its solution has solved this problem.
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. Seedstars Africa Ventures Managing Partner Maxime Bouan said of the investment: “As a society, we have recognized that climate change is one of the greatest threats to our generation, and we use smart capital to support Entrepreneurs are critical and they are creating innovative and localized solutions to this challenge.”
The new funding will allow BPS to improve its existing products (product upgrades to add new features and integrate automation) and expand into new markets outside of Nigeria and Ghana, where it currently operates.