Hardware Things: Lessons from Scaling Solar Zambia

A recent update from Chuma Asuzu, including information on the recent reorganization of Hardware Things:

  • The newsletter will no longer have a steady monthly schedule. I’ll send one out intermittently, whether written by me or a guest writer but likely not on the first of every month.
  • This year’s zine is delayed, but is coming soon. I’ve done most of the work, I just need to put it all together. This zine, Community Commerce, will be the last one.
  • The Hardware Things membership has been discontinued. If you’re a member, I sent an email that you might have read already.
  • The best place to keep in touch is the Hardware Things Community on Discord. I plan to still organize the monthly calls with a guest engineer or entrepreneur each month.

In case you missed it, here’s the previous newsletter.

One Thing I Enjoyed Reading

In May, the IFC published a report on their Scaling Solar Zambia project which, when launched in 2015, was intended to “provide power for tens of thousands of households and businesses and save the Zambian Government hundreds of millions of dollars over 25 years.” While the larger Scaling Solar initiative was also implemented in Senegal and Uzbekistan, Zambia was the flagship of this programme and the report focuses solely on that country.

Long story short, the project did not scale. But the report goes into detail on why and recommends that getting solar energy at scale will likely rely on sustained DFI lending and transparent reporting of subsidies (as this acutely affects pricing).

Follow up: Teal Emery, who led the writing of the report, posted an elegant summary on Twitter.

Interesting Things

MAJIK WATER harvests water from the atmosphere. [Kenya]

The African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS) is the foremost international effort to collect, analyze and disseminate data on postharvest losses of cereal grains in sub-Saharan Africa.

The University Agency for Innovation is developing neonatal incubators in rural communities. [Cameroon]

Things To Apply For

Ampersand is hiring a Senior Product Manager (Hardware) in Kigali, Rwanda.
Deadline: Until filled.

A colleague of mine is looking for African startups developing products focused on reducing indoor air pollution (created from heating, cooking, cleaning, etc.) for a funding opportunity. Please respond to this email if interested.
Deadline: January 31, 2024.

Company Spotlight

In Nairobi, EV Chaja is developing electric vehicle chargers for private EV owners and fleet operators. Their business model includes installing chargers in large malls that see a lot of traffic with lower cost for the mall operators as well as installing chargers in private homes.

Until next time,