Olubunmi Oluwadare, CEO, ShineLite Ltd. It is a solar powered LED Lighting company focused mainly on renewable energy providing solutions in every human endeavour. Excerpts:
What is it all about and how does it work?
The project is all about using the resources God has bestowed on us to see how we can use it to benefit of mankind, having seen it work in other parts of the world, so we can use it to confront the challenges of power supply in Nigeria and other African countries.
God gave us a lot of resources, potentials untapped, so we are looking at generating electricity through renewable energy that is green and that is the campaign all over the world now.
Everybody is looking towards green because of the benefits derive from green environment. You can see in America today and other parts of the world, leaders are campaigning for renewable energy.
Americans today are paying people to use renewable energy to power their houses, factory etc. because there is no emission of carbon monoxide to the atmosphere and that is the direction we are looking at. It focuses more on the Sun.
How do you intend to make it work in our Nigerian environment considering the challenges surrounding power generation?
Having seen a lot of failed projects on renewable power supply, first and foremost we had conducted research on other countries how it works and what motivate them to use it and how to maintain it. We now compare it to the failed solar and wind energy in Nigeria.
We discovered after our research that human error was responsible for major failure in the past. Most of our engineers here are not knowledgeable enough. But because of the monetary aspect of it, everybody was going on solar, buy panel, battery connecting them without having the technical know-how of it.
There are a lot of things involved in it, technical aspect of it which is not our job but our technical partner.
So, what we are trying to do is to partner the best manufacturers with good track records and references; we had meetings, trainings, demonstrations backed with good research for months to know that this one is viable and looking at the capacity of the sun in Nigeria/Africa and the kind of solar panel we can use to package this new compact solar light.
So we come up with this product that is suitable for our environment since it doesnâ€™t require much technical details before installation. We can install it by ourselves and maintain because it is compactly designed to work.
What is your strategy to convince individuals or government to look towards this direction?
Having seen that a lot of people have lost interest in solar street light, what we are doing is to gain back their interest to it, so we are putting together different packages to encourage them and prove to government that this thing works.
And that is what we are looking for on the area of partnership, PPP in some major cities to partner and this means if we are given a concession of major roads, we would put this solar light there but we would regain our money through the advertisements on those poles.
So, you are not spending your money, and it is at no cost to government. To prove to them if we are able to achieve these things, the government would know that you canâ€™t give me light for me to have a street and put the light there and you are giving me a concession on lamp-post advertisement of those street light poles and the light is not coming up.
So, the responsibility is on us to ensure that things we instal work so that government would believe in what we are doing. But this PPP can only work in major cities. Again, we are looking at a situation where if you want to give us a contract, let us give you a demonstration of this thing in any location you want it for a certain period of time for you to see for yourself if it is working before giving us contract.
Another measure is that we wonâ€™t collect a contract we would not be part of its maintenance. Most companies will install and will not maintain it. No! We would not do that, we instal and maintain.
And if you donâ€™t want us to maintain for you, we will train people that will do that for you because our name is attached to these innovative www.shineliteafrica.com solar street light and these products come with years of guarantee because the products are made in different countries â€“ the battery is made in Taiwan, the panel is made in U.S and the body part from China.
The panel can last for 25 years, the battery can last for 5 years and this makes it easy in terms of maintenance.
How is this going to create employment among our youths?
There is an angle we call, solar for jobs. It is a project that is targeting youth employment and we hope itâ€™s going to work because our partners had done it in Asia and it created a lot of jobs for youths.
Since our project is a compact one, what we are looking at for instance, if government gives us one thousand street lighting, or a perimetre of airport to put all in one solar light, what we are going to do is offer training for the engineers that will install the solar street lights and we assign like 100 poles for each to manage and maintain, we can generate about 500 to 1000 jobs. How are we going to do it?
We can tailor 10 poles to each youth, you instal, maintain and we train you. Itâ€™s your job to make sure that these 10 street poles light is functioning. You oversee it. And it must be within the community we are running the project. Itâ€™s not a big deal for us to do since we can train them, they would be the ones to oversee the maintenance.
If my own is 20, I will know Iâ€™m overseeing 20 street lights and those lights must not go off and if any other problem arises I will be the one to alert the authority and they would be able to fix it and myself has acquired knowledge to fix the fuse or clean the panel etc. These are the areas we are looking at to create employment opportunities for our youths.