Azuri Technologies praised by Prime Minister during Africa trade trip
Theresa May says off-grid solar system firm embodies Cambridge's 'pioneering spirit'
Azuri Technologies was praised by the Prime Minister for its “pioneering spirit of innovation” as its chief executive joined her on an historic trade mission to Africa.
The Milton-based cleantech firm is providing pay-as-you-go solar home systems to off-grid consumers in sub-Saharan Africa.
CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth was one of 29 delegates travelling with Theresa May on her first visit to the continent as PM, during which she built partnerships and announced further support to tackle instability across the continent.
Mrs May became the first Prime Minister to visit Kenya for more than 30 years during the week-long tour, which also travelled to South Africa and Nigeria.
Mr Bransfield-Garth said: “The visit from the Prime Minister highlights both the existing relationships between British companies and countries in Africa and the opportunities for the future.
“Africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world and British businesses are ideally placed to support this growth and improve the lives of millions of consumers.”
Azuri is defending its Cleantech Company of the Year title at this year’s Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards.
The company has been supplying solar systems since 2012 and is among the leading providers of solar-powered lighting and TV systems in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Nigeria.
More than 600 million people in Africa have no access to electricity and many live in areas where extending grid electricity is prohibitively expensive.
The Prime Minister said: “Azuri Technologies’ innovative approach to mobile technology embodies the pioneering spirit of innovation for which Cambridge is globally renowned.
“This visit will showcase the cutting-edge technology and expert services that British firms have to offer to rapidly expanding markets across Africa. I’m delighted that Azuri Technologies is joining me on this visit and they are a fantastic example of the success UK companies can achieve when they think big and forge global partnerships.”
Named the 233rd fastest growing company in Europe this year by the Financial Times and Red Herring’s Top 100 Europe, Azuri was involved in the installation of solar power to 20,000 off-grid households in northern Nigeria last year as part of the Nigerian government’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ initiative, with further commercial installations ongoing.
It is working with local partner companies across East Africa to bring solar power at scale to off-grid households, including satellite TV providing more than 50 channels.
Azuri’s work has created more than 5,000 new jobs on the continent at partner companies involved in selling supporting and maintaining the solar home systems.
The impact was made clear in research published last month from GOGLA – the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry – which showed:
n 36 per cent of households with off-grid solar systems now make an average additional $35 per month, more than 50 per cent of monthly GDP per capita; and
n 44 per cent report spending more time working with new light making previously dark hours productive.
n Children in solar-powered homes are able to study for up to 90 minutes longer in the evenings, compared to households with conventional kerosene lamps, which are also hazardous to health.
Other delegates on the tour include JCB, the Scottish Whisky Association and the London Stock Exchange.
More by this authorPaul Brackley