Azuri welcomes UK-Africa trade summit focus on sustainability
Milton-based Azuri Technologies held a workshop on accelerating access to power in Africa at Monday’s (January 20) UK-Africa Investment Summit.
The event, which highlighted the opportunities for partnership between the UK and African nations, was attended by both Prince Harry and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with senior business figures. It took place in London as the UK government bids to foster trading relationships prior to the UK’s departure from the EU on January 31.
Azuri has coupled off-grid solar with energy-efficient smart TVs, rechargeable radios, satellite entertainment, internet access and a range of other appliances and services to bring digital technology to remote households.
Through its network of African partners and distributors, Azuri employs more than 5,000 people across Africa, but the company is poised for further expansion across sub-Saharan Africa in 2020.
Azuri has operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Nigeria. It was ranked the 42nd fastest growing British company in the Sunday Times’ and Hiscox’s Tech Track 100 last year.
With eight of the 15 fastest-growing economies in the world now based in Africa, the summit aims to harness the potential of the continent.
Energy is a major opportunity, given that fewer than one in two people are connected to the grid in the continent.
Azuri CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said: “For African countries, energy is a critical need to support rapid economic development. Solar power has the ability to reach the most isolated households and deliver life changing technology that connects homes to the modern digital economy.”
After the event, he added: “It’s great to see government stepping up to their responsibilities. All too often government has proposed carbon reduction at home while promoting massive carbon expansion elsewhere.
“It is important that government invests in sustainable technology that will allow African economies to develop in a sustainable way.
“It’s great to see the UK taking a lead in investment in Africa. This is a very different type of investment to that of years ago.
“Today it is all about partnership and delivering economic prosperity in Africa as well as a commercial opportunity for investors. In other words, doing good as well as doing well. The more the African continent develops, the more there is a vibrant consumer base that is eager to get the sorts of technologies and capabilities that the UK has to offer.
“These events provide an ideal environment to meet with suppliers and government alike. Azuri is quite well known in the continent and the event helps cement our position as a leading provider of off-grid power to the millions of people that still have no access to grid electricity.”
In a report published to coincide with the summit, Kleos Advisory estimated that the commercial opportunity for off-grid solar power in Africa is $24billion per year. It adds that the UK is one of the leading players in the African off-grid sector, combining solar and mobile phone technology in order to provide affordable power for the 600 million people that still lack access to grid electricity. According to the report, some five million of these pay-as-you-go solar home systems have been sold in the last four years and this figure is accelerating with more than one million such systems sold in the first six months of 2019.
“It is clear that the grid is not going to reach the 600 million people that are off-grid any time soon,” says Simon. “Off-grid solar power provides by far the most cost-effective way of getting energy services to off-grid households and enabling them to fully join the digital economy.
“The more the African continent develops, the more there is a vibrant consumer base that is eager to get the sorts of technologies and capabilities that the UK has to offer.”