Africa, Electrification, and Decentralization with Lightency
Lightency is a green tech startup that harnesses the power of deep technologies to ensure/accelerate better access to affordable and green energy. By providing a decentralized solution, we ensure that green energy is produced, consumed, and exchanged locally, which lowers the cost and increases efficiency.
There are a lot of things happening all across the continent of Africa at the moment, and The Energy Bit is delighted to get more insight into the renewable energy market and the technological advancements in general. Enjoy the read!
Can you give a brief background and aims of Lightency? How big is your current team?
Lightency is a green tech startup that provides a decentralized energy marketplace to connect different energy stakeholders starting from the energy consumer. Lightency mission is to create self-sustained communities where energy is traded like any other commodity.
Today we have a management team composed of its three co-founders who are experienced professionals who have achieved success in their industries; energy, financial, and software. They have a rich entrepreneurial experience and are supported by an advisory board composed by Philip Tesler, a serial entrepreneur who succeeded in building different startups and companies working in sustainability such as Enablon. Alan Main, who is in the head of one of the french big four companies, Thibault Verbiest, one of European reference in the crypto and blockchain regulation space and finally Fatma Dahmani, head of innovation in Endis France who know very well the European energy ecosystem.
Are you installing solar plants/energy storage, or do you just provide a platform for producers and consumers to integrate on?
Lightency is a software provider company that works hand to hand with energy companies to provide turn-key energy solutions while providing to prosumers the opportunity to monetize its excedent of electricity and increase efficiency in the grid. Lightency developed strategic partnerships with local partners to create economic impact in every region it is targeting.
How does your P2P energy trading platform work? What benefits does it bring to your customers?
The P2P energy trading platform, Powerchain, connects energy consumers to energy producers in order to collect energy data and provides trade opportunities. Consumers can buy electricity at lower prices when demand is low, and producers can better monetize their energy injected in the grid when the demand is high.
Who are your competitors and what are your advantages compared to them?
The P2P energy market is still in its infancy, and many actors today are building pilot projects while focusing on scaling the technology. All of the actors share the same common goal: to prove that energy can be traded like any other commodity and that P2P energy trading increases energy efficiency while promoting the use of renewable energy and making energy prices cheaper.
Can you tell a bit more about the choices you have made regarding blockchain and its benefits?
Ethereum is one of the best platforms in the industry today. Of course, it has certain limitations, but the community behind and the improvement that the Blockchain is making led us to use it with conviction.
Can you briefly tell us about your partnerships?
We have established some amazing partnerships so far. The most important ones are Jua energy, Enda Tamweel, Solartech Sud, Famib Group, Aura Digital, GamCo, and Autarsys. Gamco, Jua Energy, and Autarsys are energy companies that are providing the needed energy infrastructure in the project we are setting up.
- ENDA TAMWEEL – A microfinancing organism pioneer in the MENA region. We have a strategic partnership and we are working together to select and empower rural communities that are suffering from a lack of energy access.
- SolarTech Sud – A smart city in the south of The Mediterranean.
- Famib Group – A strategic partnership with an African Subsaharan company HQed in Bamako to select communities in need of our services, Mali.
- Aura Digital – A french based syndicate, helping lightency in its business development mission as well as providing access to french utilities to brainstorm around the future of the industry to innovate and provide the needed technologies.
How is the African renewable energy market looking at the moment? Do foreign investments mainly drive the deployment? Is it reasonably homogeneous, or is there a significant difference in areas?
The African renewable energy market is heterogeneous, and every country has its own parameters, electrification rates, and policies. There are different actors, foreign and African ones, that are working hand in hand to electrify the continent. African citizens are still suffering from energy problems, but electrification rates are increasing dramatically. The African target is to be electrified by 2030. I strongly believe that innovation and startups like Lightency are necessary to reach those targets.
How are the regulations in Africa compared to the rest of the world? Do they differ a lot across the continent?
Most of the African countries are deregulated since 2000. The countries suffering from low electrification rates created regulation agencies to support the private sector initiatives to ease the investment in the energy sector. In North Africa, the energy market is regulated, but electrification rates differ from other countries. Morroco and Tunisia, are the top electrified countries; however, rural areas are still suffering from low energy access. On the other hand, Sub-Saharan countries have the lowest electrification rates in the world. European and American sponsors are a pillar in the electrification mission of the continent.
What are the biggest obstacles to reaching electrification across the entire continent? Is it even possible? How much have things changed/evolved in recent years?
Rural communities in Africa are very scattered, and national grids cannot reach those people. It will be very costly. Microgrid seems to be the solution to reach those people, and electrifying the continent is doable, but it will take the time needed. Things are changing, and if we compare electrification rates in 2010 and 2020, the difference is enormous. Mali, for instance, was electrified less than 25%, but today it’s more than 40%. Not to mention that pre-urban and rural areas have the lowest rates.
Your roadmap gives an impression that you have big plans for Lightency and the acceleration of decentralized energy adoption across Africa, and even across the globe. What kind of timelines do you currently envision for these steps?
Lightency team has been working for two years to confirm it’s technology and build it’s Go to market strategy. The hard part of the mission is almost done. Today, the technology is more performant than ever, and the network that Lightency has is more robust. The focus today and until 2023 is with rural communities who have an energy access problem. The purpose is to bring the needed investment in energy infrastructure and allow those people to trade electricity.
Creating economic, social, and environmental impact is the main target while keep improving the technology. Tunisia, Mali, Senegal are the target countries for those three years. Meanwhile, Lightency is building pilots in Europe, mainly in France and Spain, in order to prepare its expansion for the next few years.