Flemish business angels support energy kiosks in Africa

Summary

Flanders’ Business Angels Network is funding a project spearheaded by the Bruges-based company Energy Kiosks to provide rechargeable electric lamps to rural communities in western Africa

Solar energy in Togo

A group of Flemish investors, the Business Angels Network (BAN), has agreed to provide financing to Bruges-based co-operative Energy Kiosks, which develops sustainable electric lighting projects in western Africa. The company’s solar kiosks are a unique concept based on modern, sustainable and affordable technology and have already been installed in more than 150 remote villages in Togo, with pilot projects starting in neighbouring Benin and later in Cameroon.

A solar, or energy, kiosk turns sunlight into electricity. The kiosks are installed in rural areas without electricity. Villagers can rent rechargeable lamps from the kiosk and also charge their lamps there, as well as other devices such as mobile phones. Each kiosk is run by a local business, trained by the Bruges company.

Energy Kiosks launched in 2013 after entrepreneur Bert Bernolet spent two years developing the idea through his project Solar zonder grenzen (Solar Without Borders). BAN Vlaanderen became involved a year later, with some of the network’s members setting up a consortium and appointing a representative to the Energy Kiosks board.

“Energy Kiosks is a unique sort of investment, and at the same time an illustration of how risk capital and entrepreneurship can ensure employment, welfare and wealth in developing regions,” said Reginald Vossen, director-general of BAN Vlaanderen. “This project is clear proof that our business angels are prepared to invest in strong enterprise across all borders.”

Photo: Solar zonder grenzen

Sustainable energy

The five main renewable energy sources in Flanders are biomass, biogas, wind energy, solar energy and water power. The renewable energy sector has grown sharply in recent years, with wind and solar energy production especially on the rise.
Agency - The Flemish Energy Agency is responsible for implementing the government’s sustainable energy policies. Its central tasks are to promote rational energy use and environmentally friendly energy production.
Green energy certificates - One of the principal measures to promote sustainable energy are the certificates the Flemish energy regulator (Vreg) awards for electricity generated by renewable energy sources. Since the regulations were tightened in 2012, investments in renewable energy installations have declined.
Obstacles - According to the Flemish Energy Agency, the main challenges in local renewable energy production are the region’s short coast, limited height differences and direct sunlight, and high population density.
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new wind turbines created in Flanders in 2013

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million kilowattage of green energy in 2012

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percentage of green energy used in Flanders in 2012