A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Solar Solution

The ‘power situation’ in Uganda is giving rise to multiple business opportunities. The sun (in abundance) gives rise to solar power potential- put the two together and you get a timely, environmentally conscious business model.

Blending the two together is exactly what Abhay and Rita Shah have done- and in doing so have been providing the means for solar energy to take off across the country. ‘Ultratec’ supplies solar panels, batteries, back up power systems, invertors (which charge when the mains power is on, and use the power store when it is off). Income from these sales keeps the business running, and in turn provides then with scope to promote solar power and energy efficiency. Ultratec is an active participant is ‘Energy Awareness Week’ in Kampala, and also conducts ‘energy audits’ for companies, to see where they can save on power usage. They have also teamed up with The Shell Foundation to promote solar across rural Uganda.

Abhay grew up in Kenya, and then moved to the UK for his studies. It was there that he met Rita- and they ended up remaining in the UK for 20 years. But a relocation opportunity brought them back to East Africa, and it was there that Abhay, an astute businessman, started seeing the need and opportunity for the growth of the energy sector in Uganda. The country, he explained, is turning to alternative power sources out of necessity. It could take five years for the ‘power situation’ in Uganda to be sorted- and so there is now time for the solar energy industry to establish.

I asked him what it takes to do business in Uganda, and he calmly responded, ‘patience’. And would be recommend it?
‘Uganda still has an enabling environment’, he commented, ‘We have seen that with a little bit of patience, you can get things done. The weather is very good- so we hang around!’

I am tempted to join them!


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