EDF Pulse Africa 2018: And the winners are...

Publish on 26/11/2018

On November 23, Marianne Laigneau, Group Executive Director in charge of the International Direction, rewarded the three winners of the second edition of the EDF Pulse Africa Awards. These three start-ups, promising projects for the future, will participate actively in the continent's energy development.

The EDF group has rewarded three start-ups among the 436 companies that are candidates for the second edition of the EDF Pulse Africa Awards. The awards were presented by Marianne Laigneau, Group Executive Director in charge of International Management, in the presence of the members of the Grand Jury. The three winners selected by the Grand Jury won prizes ranging from € 5,000 to € 15,000, as well as support facilitating access to EDF's innovation ecosystem and French or international financial institutions.

    1st prize: Savanna Circuit Tech Ltd., project led by Kenyan entrepreneur Emmastella Wangui.

    2nd prize: Black Star Energy Ltd., project led by entrepreneur Nicole Pointdexter

    3rd prize: Two Exaequo, Water Access Rwanda and Solarcreed Nigeria, projects sponsored by entrepreneurs Christelle Kwizera and Saheed

The jury decided to award a special prize "Coup de coeur Occitanie" to Flavien Kouatcha for his project Save Our Agriculture

Marianne Laigneau, Group Executive Director in charge of International Management and President of the EDF Pulse Africa jury, said: "The EDF Pulse Africa Awards are a strong commitment by EDF to support these particularly inspiring initiatives, which contribute to the solutions of tomorrow, which are part of the dynamics of our portfolio of hydropower, biomass and off-grid projects being developed in Africa. For the EDF group, it is also an opportunity to identify those who work today on the energy solutions of tomorrow. "

5 award-winning projects

Publish on 25/11/2018

Through the EDF Pulse Africa Awards, the EDF Group supports start-ups in Africa and also associate local entrepreneurs to the development of innovative solutions.
The 2018 vintage of this contest is mostly made up of start-ups from English-speaking countries (Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda and Nigeria). These include:

1st prize: SAVANNA CIRCUIT TECH LTD. (Electricity services and usages  - Kenya)

Kenya once again takes first place in this start-up contest. Savanna Circuit Tech Ltd. won the first prize with its mobile solar milk cooling system. This innovation is supported by a platform accessible through a smartphone, allowing producers and dairy companies to maximize their profits. The young company's main challenge is to significantly reduce milk losses in rural areas. These losses due to long haul distances and the lack of conservation infrastructure are hugely penalizing small producers.
The commercialization of this solution which is already effective, meets local needs and thus makes it possible to fight effectively against food insecurity.

2nd Prize: BLACK STAR ENERGY LTD. (Off-grid eletricity production - Ghana)
This start-up specializes in the development of mini-grids; it already operates 15 and aims to connect more than 12,000 Ghanaians to electricity by the end of the year. Black Star Energy's mini-grids have very high availability (over 98%); they allow customers to know their energy consumption and pay their bills via mobile phone. The Black Star Energy customer relationship management platform has the flexibility to meet the varied needs of customers with different pricing schedules.

3rd prize: Two exaequo, Water Access Rwanda and Solarcreed Nigeria

WATER ACCESS RWANDA (Water Access - Rwanda)

Water Access Rwanda has developed a drinking water kiosk, powered by solar energy. The solution is mainly based on a water treatment and distribution facility called "INUMA", equipped with a powerful filtering system. Thus, an INUMA kiosk can serve 2,500 people with potable drinking water. In addition, these kiosks are also a point of sale for products and services adapted to local needs (sanitary products, filters and chlorine tablets, telecommunication services, savings and microfinance systems).

SOLARCREED NIGERIA (Off-grid eletricity production - Nigeria)

SolarCreed, a Nigeria-based start-up, provides poultry farmers with solar-powered lighting solutions to replace fossil fuel-powered lighting (which accounts for nearly 30 percent of the cost of solar energy). Kits consisting of solar panels, long-life lithium-ion batteries and LED lamps can provide up to 10 hours of lighting. This solution effectively replaces the diesel and gasoline used by Nigerian farmers and makes use of Pay-As-You-Go technology for its payments.


The young Cameroonian firm Save Our Agriculture (Water Access) the start-up caught the jury's attention.
Te team designs aquaponic kits that use fish excrement as a fertilizer, to grow organic food and reduce water waste by 90%. It is a closed farming system powered by solar panels and includes a fish farm and crops. The fish droppings are collected by a pipe and returned to the plants where they serve as natural fertilizer.

The process is 100% chemical free and uses only 10% water compared to traditional agriculture. The company derives its revenue from the selling of fresh vegetables grown in greenhouses (87%) and the sale of aquaponic kits to private customers and hoteliers (13%).

The four winners have won prizes ranging from € 5,000 to € 15,000, as well as full support, including:
• Operational and financial advice
• Project development partnerships with local players such as "Energy Generation" (incubator and training center dedicated to start-ups in the energy sector based in Togo) and with EDF's experts, particularly via its subsidiary EDF Pulse Growth
• Access to EDF's innovation ecosystem: EDF's R&D and internal creativity labs.

When it comes to the Occitanie's favorite, it will be incubated in January 2019 at the prestigious BIC (Business Innovation Center) in Montpellier, France.

Three projects in the category specializing in the production of electrical uses and services will participate in the final.

Publish on 31/10/2018

The category "Electricity services and usages" highlights any service that enables to expand electrification and any innovative product with low power consumption; recoverable by users of electricity services. Today, we are talking about three projects that are as innovative as each other and that have a significant impact on the lives of the communities in which they find themselves. These start-ups will be invited to pitch before a jury of experts on November 22, in Paris.
Below, a brief presentation of each of these innovations.


The Burkina Faso based start-up designs and markets egg incubators using solar energy. This inexpensive solution is developed in partnership with engineers from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The incubator has a capacity of 240 eggs and has an automatic egg tilting system that can predict relative humidity and temperature for constant conditions. The company assembles solar panels locally to directly meet the needs of communities and ensure the sustainability of their use.

The company has a competent and multidisciplinary team and its approach to solution design is resolutely inclusive. The team works with local resources to design products that are truly tailored to the needs of their targets. The social impact is at the heart of their approach (job creation in particular, but also technical training). The solutions produced locally are cheaper, both for the initial price and for their maintenance (unlike imported products).



Based in Kenya, Savanna Circuit Tech Ltd. offers a mobile cooling system powered by solar energy, as well as a platform accessible via a smartphone, allowing producers / dairy companies to maximize their profits. The start-up responds to the challenges of milk loss in rural areas, which can reach 2 billion liters per year. These losses due to long transport distances and lack of conservation infrastructure are a major disadvantage for small farmers.
The 1,000-watt solar-powered system uses a 1-hp compressor to cool 100 liters of milk in 27 minutes at 4 degrees Celsius. This eliminates the rapid proliferation of bacteria responsible for the deterioration of milk.
The commercialization of this solution is already effective, responds to local needs and helps to effectively fight against food insecurity. The company has offices in the famous Strathmore University Business School in the Kenyan capital.
The founding team of Savanna Circuit Tech Ltd. consists of a software engineer and an innovation manager. Their complementary skills allow them to lead a team of nine people who assure dairy farmers that their products are properly stocked.



Solar Freeze's solar units effectively replace coal-fired cold rooms in Kenya. In the past, to store perishable food, farmers used cold rooms that drew their energy from charcoal obtained from incinerated trees. The direct consequence was increasing deforestation. To solve this big problem, Solar Freeze's founders have developed cold rooms that are less polluting and operate on solar energy.
3,000 small farmers represent the direct beneficiaries of this solution, 80% of whom are women. This innovation had the major effect of reducing food losses by 95% and considerably increasing (10 times) the incomes of small producers. Solar Freeze's cold rooms are accessible on an on-demand platform via USSD, SMS.
The team is composed as follows:
- Fadekunayo Jolomi Adeniyi, PhD student in renewable energy (University of Durham, UK) and MSc in Renewable Energy Science, University of Plymouth, UK.
- Dysmus Kisilu, a graduate of the University of California Davis - Renewable Energy.

Four startups specializing in Off-grid eletricity production qualify for the final!

Publish on 23/10/2018

For the grand finale of this second edition of the EDF Pulse Africa Awards, ten projects caught the attention of the internal jury which met on October 4th in Paris. These projects come from the 03 categories of the contest: Off-grid eletricity production, Electricity services and usages and Water access.

Today, we highlight four projects in the "Off-grid eletricity production" category, which are the finalists selected to pitch on November 22nd. Below, a brief presentation of these startups all from English-speaking countries.

BLACK STAR ENERGY LTD, Off-grid eletricity production , Ghana

This start-up develops, owns and operates solar off-grid in Ghana. Black Star Energy Ltd. already operates 15 minigrids and would like to move to 30 this year in order to serve more than 12,000 people in the country. It gives the figure of + 98% availability 24/7 and has developed a profitable model (85% operating margin). The solution consists mainly of:
- An "AC" mini-grid with single or three-phase solar energy with storage
- Smart meters owners
- A cloud platform for customer relationship management.

The proposed system allows you to know energy consumption and make bill payments using any mobile device. The platform has the flexibility to meet the varied needs of customers with different pricing according to schedules. Data collection allows the start-up to adapt to the needs of its customers and their payment methods.

The team includes award-winning solar engineers and experienced executives in utility operations, software and energy consumer behavior. The most important demonstration of the strength of this team is that they have built and operated 15 mini-grids with high reliability and high service levels.

ECOGEN ENTERPRISES, Off-grid eletricity production, Malawi

Founded in 2017, Ecogen Enterprises strives to innovate to eradicate poverty in its home country of Malawi. For this it is given as mission to improve the food security of the populations. The start-up offers an inexpensive home-grown biodigester that is easy to install and easy to transport in all areas, while providing enough gas for cooking and lighting. It is also an effective way of managing organic waste.
The distribution of the product is carried out by local agents who go door to door to praise the merits of biogas from different targets. : individual houses, hotels, restaurants, canteens, farms etc. The young company estimates its current funding need at 300K to better structure administratively and commercially.

EcoGen has three well experienced founding members who are very passionate about social change. They are professionally well experienced in the areas of Social Entrepreneurship, Renewable Energy Engineering and Rural Community Development.

SOLARCREED, Off-grid eletricity production, Nigeria

SolarCreed provides African farmers with subscription-based, next-generation solar energy solutions for optimized production.
Their method is to use solar lighting to replace fossil fuel-powered lighting for Nigerian farmers.

It is a subscription model (36-month lease), applied to solar-powered long-life lithium-ion batteries (35Wp) and 400 Lumen LEDs to provide up to 10 hours of lighting. this solution effectively replaces the diesel and gasoline used by Nigerian farmers.
Engineers, designers and mobile developers are part of this entrepreneurial adventure, which uses Pay-As-You-Go technology.

The team is constituted as follows :
- Saheed Okuboyejo (International Business Development, Renewables Energy)
- Damola Alayande (National Operations, Technology)
- Moowa Masani (International Market Intelligence Experience)
- Olusoji Aboderin (Regional Sales Management)
- Chetachukwu Afuba (Lead, Customer Support).

STANDARD MICROGRID, Off-grid eletricity production, Zambia

This start-up provides access to affordable modern energy services for low-income communities, hospitals and schools.
Standard Microgrid has developed the ability to remotely monitor and control systems, manage demand, and monitor usage and payment collection.
Their mobile billing system allows local businesses, unskilled people to buy energy or sell it for profit to other members of the community.

Over time, the company has developed a standardized, fully automated renewable energy system for access to modern energy services at an affordable price.
Fully contained in a 20-foot container, the 10-kW micro-grid can be deployed in three days and has the capacity to provide electricity to more than 150 homes.
It should be noted that the South African start-up is priced much more competitive than their competition in the country.

The team has extensive expertise in technical development in production, distribution and network management systems, off-grid project development, business development and solid operational experience in rural Africa.

The top 10 startups are known!

Publish on 13/10/2018

On October 4th, the internal jury of the competition met to select this year's 10 finalists. Several projects as interesting as the others have caught the attention of the jury, in the following three categories:
- Off-grid electricity production,
- Electricity services and usages and finally,
- Water access.

Find below the list of the 10 projects selected by the jury :
Off-grid eletricity production, Ghana

Electricity services and usages, Burkina Faso

Off-grid eletricity production, Malawi

Electricity services and usages, Kenya

Water access, Cameroon

Off-grid eletricity production, Zambia

Off-grid eletricity production, Nigeria

Electricity services and usages, Kenya

Water access, Morocco

Water access, Rwanda

See you on November 22nd in Paris, for the finnal pitch!


Publish on 06/08/2018

"Energy and digital are the two pillars of Africa's development"
Expert in digital strategy, communications and new technologies, Thierry Barbaut, a member of the experts' committee, sheds light on innovation and the African Tech.

Today, Africa is the first region in the world, where there is great dynamism in the areas of innovation. What is it due to you?
Innovation is driven by two main factors: the development of communication that is exacerbated by the fact that Africa is the "mobile first continent" with more than one billion active SIM cards. Communities, businesses, states are now connected to each other and to the rest of the world. Second, the ability of entrepreneurs to find culturally and locally appropriate solutions to their needs. The answer to these needs is logically innovation by finding or diverting existing solutions that are not always technological. An innovation by definition must be a new process that is simple, practical and scalable. When entrepreneurs connect, innovate and share this causes this revolution that ultimately touches the essential needs: health, education, agriculture, social and of course energy.

For some time now, there has been a proliferation of several competitions and prizes organized for African startups to "promote innovation"; what is your view of this trend?
I am mixed because it is ultimately difficult for an entrepreneur to decipher this ecosystem as it is sprawling. We must distinguish between a "communication operation" with a competition that will receive 1,000 projects and make it a winner and a competition like the EDF Pulse Africa Awards, where successful candidates will be followed, coached, funded and accompanied. Training, support and follow-up are fundamental for the success of a project whatever the theme. With the Microproject Agency, for which I am digital manager, we support around a hundred projects a year, and all are supported, even the non-laureates. We will evaluate the projects on the spot in order to collect and capitalize on the good practices to then help and advise the new carriers of projects. Support in France and locally is one of the keys to the success of the program, which means that we have not had more than 4% failure on projects for 35 years!
So calls for projects, competitions and especially financing are needed. But with instructors, donors, guides passionate about the themes, regions and cultures of the projects supported. A competition must also know, as does the EDF Pulse Africa prize, evoke previous editions and highlight the actors and their projects. It is necessary that the spirit "competition" allows the actors to challenge themselves but without becoming too exclusive.

You have agreed to be part of the team of experts gathered for this second edition of the EDF Pulse Africa Awards; What motivated you?
I am passionate for 20 years by Africa and digital and I finally see these passions in synergy. Africa is connected, but it is also digital and innovative, and with the EDF Pulse Africa prize, which adds the theme of energy to this growth, it is an open path to the development of communities through the projects supported. What's more motivating for an enthusiast like me!
Think of the beneficiaries who will be counted by thousands on these projects supported. Without energy, no digital, no water, no agriculture no health no education. Digital technology and energy are for me the two pillars of the development of Africa and to participate in it with the EDF Pulse Africa prize is an honor.
Major French and international companies should model on the EDF Pulse Africa contest by developing similar calls. Personally it is also fascinating to educate and discover the ambitions of projects and the profiles of those who deposit them. Courses of young Africans who are undoubtedly the power of the continent for years to come. The next Bil Gates, Larry Page or Elon Musk is among them and it's also up to us to give them a chance.


Publish on 13/07/2018

« Entrepreneurs need visibility and funding »

Communication specialist of international organizations and institutions, Johanna Niedzialkowski started her career in the French diplomatic network (Dakar & Paris). A graduate of CELSA, she was in charge of communication at the Ministry of National Education before joining 2iE in Burkina Faso. Today a consultant, she assists companies and institutions in developing their strategy and communication tools. Member of the expert committee of the 2018 edition, looks at the EDF Pulse Africa Awards and the Tech ecosystem on the continent.

They are specialists in open innovation, Block Chain, African Tech, collaborative economy ... For this new edition, experts will be gathered in a committee to facilitate the choice of our future winners. Johanna Niedzialkowski who is part of this committee, takes a look at the EDF Pulse Africa 2018 Awards and the Tech ecosystem in Africa.
You are among the experts selected to bring their eyes on the different projects of the 2018 edition, how do you perceive your mission?
This is a great opportunity that EDF offers me, because entrepreneurs need both visibility and funding; this type of awards allows them to better work on their projects and make them "bankable" and especially to be highlighted. What is significant with the EDF Pulse Africa Awards is that, first, they are focused on the energy sector, which allows us to go further than generic awards; and secondly, the "prize money" is associated with real field expertise through the support of the laureates.
What will be your role as an expert on this second edition of the EDF Pulse Africa Awards?
I think, through my experience working with different institutional environments and project leaders, I will be able to help identify those who do interesting things. This expertise will allow me to easily identify good projects and lead them to improvement, so that they are more readable and more understandable for the members of the jury.
What is your view of Afrobytes, the new agency that supports this second edition?
Afrobytes is an agency that has the particularity of bringing together people who share a tremendous energy and the will to move the lines on the African continent, whether in the fields of innovation or new technologies. They are mostly people who are already very committed because of the actions they are taking on their scales and who need to go further. They meet here to see other expertise and connect to other ecosystems and see how to work together and be more effective; I think it works pretty well, on Afrobytes!
The development of renewable energies through innovation: What does it means to you?
We must welcome the fact that there is a real highlighting of active projects in the field, with a real sharing of experiences from project leaders; with a concrete and pragmatic analysis of the problems encountered in the field and which remain today some of the blocking elements on which we must act together. It is obvious that there is no infrastructure the villages, the households do not have resources and all these problems cannot be addressed in isolation. There must be more people who think together and pool out resources to work together and thus, the EDF Pulse Africa Awards represent a concrete solution.

3 awards winners, 3 promising projects!

Publish on 20/12/2017

Congratulations to the 3 winners ! Majik Water, Lono and Eduair.
Yesterday in Paris, 3 start-ups were rewarded among the 97 that took part in the first edition of the EDF Pulse Africa Awards. The awards were presented by Jean-Bernard Lévy, CEO of EDF, in the presence of members of the jury. The three winners selected by the Grand Jury won prizes of 5,000 euros to 15,000 euros and facilitating access to the EDF's ecosystem and French or international financial institutions.
Majik Water, a project led by Kenyan entrepreneur Beth Koigi won first prize; Lono, the Ivorian start-up holds the second place; and Eduair, led by the Cameroonian Yannick Kegne, takes the last step of the podium. Nanoé, a project in Madagascar has been chosen as the jury's favorite.

EDF Pulse Africa Awards 2017: the jury

Publish on 05/12/2017

Marianne LAIGNEAU 
Group Senior Executive Vice President in charge of International Division since July 2017
EDF Group Communications
 Vice President who oversees EDF Pulse historical project

Yvonne MBURU
Founder and CEO of Med in Africa and member of the first promotion of Young Leaders of Africa France who work alongside President Macron on the subjects of Africa.


Valérie LEVKOV
EDF International Vice President in charge of Africa and Middle-East. At the initiative of the project EDF Pulse in Africa.

Vice President France and Distributed Energies / EDF Energies Nouvelles  
In charge of the development of wind and solar projects (ground and distributed) in France.

CEO and co-founder of start-up Infinity Space who wants to revolutionize universal mobile payment. WeCashUp platform has won numerous innovation awards, including #Vivatech2017.

Diane-Audrey NGAKO
's artistic director, a creative agency.
Founder of the digital and collaborative platform "Visiter l'Afrique".

Christophe DANSETTE
Journalist and presenter France 24, French news channel, focused on the international.

CEO Innhotep, a consulting firm in strategy and management of innovation and growth projects.

EDF Nouveaux Business
One of its missions: to detect and support entrepreneurial projects, to implement partnerships or acquisitions with external start-ups.

West Africa Director at Jeune Afrique Media Group
The continent's leading press and communication group


Find out EDF Pulse Africa Awards' finalists

Publish on 09/11/2017

Hydro IQ encompasses a device to optimize water consumption through a smart meter and a platform. A simple principle: allow the consumer to define and manage their water consumption at their own pace according to their needs and their budget. On-demand consumption with a mobile payment system (MPESA).


NDOTO is a smart electricity meter, equipped with a 3G / 2G module that allows wireless communication with a web platform through any local GSM network to enable accurate and real-time reading of energy monitoring (voltage, voltage, amperage ...). Thanks to this system, any user can view the electricity consumption of all his equipment in real time.

AEON Power bag is a backpack / computer bag with an on-board system to remotely power any mobile device through signals emitted by telecommunications transmitters.
This tool is for students, teachers, or any mobile device user.

Medical care kiosk is a 12-square-meter container transformed into a medical teleconsultation room equipped and powered by a solar photovoltaic system.
It allows patients to connect to specialist doctors remotely (via satellite internet) under the supervision of qualified medical personnel.

Solar box is a photovoltaic solar cube producing twice as much energy as panels of the same power placed on a flat surface. A solar box cube of 90 Wc will produce between 600 Wh and 800 Wh per day whereas the same panels placed on a flat surface will produce between 300 Wh and 400 Wh per day.
The product is already marketed in Gabon. He contributed to the electrification of the first ecological.

LONO is a project that converts organic waste into biogas (for cooking fuel) and biomethane (for electricity production).
This process is carried out using small and medium-sized decentralized fermentation units for local processing of available organic waste (agricultural waste, household waste, etc.) into biogas. The organic waste is processed and marketed as fertilizer to distributors and cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire. The biogas is purified and converted into electricity for use in off-grid areas.


EDUAIR is aims to reduces the digital divide and the energy divide.
The boxes are a good step forward in the digital transformation and the digital economy by giving everyone access to any type of content, and this, without connection to the Internet.
But in addition, it allows to do it in the absence of conventional energy through the use of solar technology that makes a box connected and accessible.


NANOE is a collective solution for production, storage and distribution of solar energy locally. It is a solution that pools the needs and therefore the answers that are provided. It is flexible, fast and affordable.
An entrepreneurial platform, whose objective is to train local entrepreneurs to install and exploit.


MAJIK WATER is democratizing access to drinking water in arid communities through the provision of atmospheric water generators (a machine that transforms air moisture into pure water) powered by solar panels.

The Ecological Digital Farm is a modern agricultural project based on the rational use of water and solar energy off grid. In fact, it is a package of integrated innovations (Tele-Irrigation and its derivatives). All resources are managed intelligently and remotely via a mobile application. All integrated innovations have been tested separately and are operational Some of them have already been marketed.
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