As I’ve recently highlighted in my latest blogs, there is great entrepreneurial opportunity in Africa’s electricity market: Africa’s mass nonconsumption of electricity is ripe for market creation. Daystar Power is one such market innovator that jumped on this opportunity in 2017, and in a signal of its success, was acquired earlier this year by the multinational oil and gas company, Shell.
A brief history of the market-creating organization
When Daystar was founded in 2017 by Jasper Graf von Hardenberg and Christian Wessels, the struggle they were trying to address was simple: provide businesses with reliable and affordable power. In their eyes, if businesses no longer had to provide their own power, then they could focus on growth. And if businesses grew, so would their economies, and ultimately so would their countries.
This focus on development through entrepreneurship is the core of market-creating innovations, which target nonconsumption by turning expensive and complicated products and services, such as power, into simple, affordable, and accessible ones.
To achieve their goal of making power accessible to businesses, Daystar creates solar panels that can be scaled to fit a client’s specific energy needs, thus making them ideal for integration into existing power systems. Daystar also offers power services to clients through long-term contracts without any upfront capital expenditure. Once installed, the solar power solutions are then remotely monitored and managed through a network operating center. Essentially, Daystar integrates their activities by taking care of the entire solar system process from auditing the business site, to proposing solutions, to installing the systems, and finally to operating and maintaining them.
All of these services address common obstacles to solar adoption by significantly reducing both technical and financial barriers for businesses. Furthermore, successful market-creating organizations tend to reduce barriers to consumption and integrate their activities, both strategies that Daystar achieved.
Daystar’s solutions also help reduce dependence on diesel generators and help cut carbon emissions. Outside of specific services, the company focuses on driving gender equality within the sector. Backed by their investors, Daystar has pledged to build a gender-inclusive team. Their goal is to have a 40% share of women on their team by 2024 as part of their “2x Challenge.”
So far, the company, which currently employs 140 people, has expanded its operations to four countries running over 300 power installations.
Better market, better future
In September of this year, Daystar was acquired by Shell to continue to deliver sustainable power solutions to commercial and industrial (C&I) businesses across Africa. Daystar aims to increase its installed solar capacity to 400MW by 2025 from their current 32MW capacity. The organization is currently on track to increase its installed solar capacity by 135% this year alone. CEO and co-founder, Jasper Graf von Hardenberg, believes that being part of Shell will allow them to execute their mission even faster.
Through Daystar and other renewable energy investments, Shell is taking its first steps into the renewable power space and beginning to build their renewable power portfolio in growth economies. Their goal is to provide reliable electricity to 100 million nonconsumers in Africa and emerging Asia by 2030, helping these communities access electricity from cleaner sources.
Together, Daystar and Shell have the power to transform Africa’s power sector and drive forward the continent’s socio-economic development. If the companies continue to harness market creating strategies, such as reducing accessibility and financial barriers to the consumption of renewable power, they won’t only improve the reliability of power for commercial and industrial businesses, but also the quality of life for all those affected by the success of these businesses.
In these market-creating innovations, Daystar is helping power the engine driving Africa’s sustainable prosperity.