Creating prosperity in rural Africa

Developed countries are providing a surfeit of aid to the undeveloped and developing world to try and alleviate the symptoms of poverty. However, we need to focus more on curing the problem.

Nicholas Wrigley, founder and chief executive officer, Winch Energy

The idea that considerable donations can treat poverty has governed our way of thinking since the 1960s, yet large aid packages have done little to break the vicious poverty circle that is dominant in areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa.

Long-term sustainable growth is needed, and the only way this will happen is if we stop gifting money and start creating sustainable communities by preventing economic institutions from blocking incentives and start encouraging foreign direct investment.

Providing the basics of electricity, telecommunications and water is one of the most transparent ways of developing a country. Globally, an estimated 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and 4.2 billion people – or three fifths of the global population – do not have regular access to the internet.

Relying on open-ended commitments of aid to solve this problem will simply not work. $27 billion (£22 billion) is spent annually on kerosene, candles, battery torches and other fossil fuel powered stopgap technologies. It is a myth that people in undeveloped countries do not have the means to pay for this electricity – they simply do not have access to it.

Extending the grid is often an extremely expensive, logistically impossible and unreliable way of doing this. The Ivory Coast, for example, has a rural population of around 9.7 million people and only approximately 4 per cent of rural communities are electrified.

This causes a rural to urban drift towards cities, resulting in dramatic social change and mass poverty. Affordable off-grid power generation and distribution is the remedy to this problem rather than a means of alleviating the symptom.

Winch Energy has crafted a comprehensive offer to meet national-scale rural electrification objectives in a rapid, modular and cost-effective manner. Through its proprietary technology, the Remote Power Unit, Winch provides 24-7 power to off-grid communities along with satellite broadband.

Winch Energy’s mission is to deliver reliable, cost-competitive and clean electricity and communications to large settlements, schools, clinics and village social centers as a catalyst for local economic growth.

The Remote Power Unit models have been optimised to meet the needs of such end users, albeit with a modular system that allows to meet quickly growing demand with significant cost savings compared to diesel. Winch’s business model has been designed for high-volume programmes with industrialised-level assembly, deployment, operations and maintenance.

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