At 32, Simbarashe Mhuriro already has twelve years of experience in business management, the last of Oxygen Africa, a company with which he hopes to develop photovoltaic solar energy in his home country, Zimbabwe. And the expectations placed on him are high not only in this region of southern Africa, but across the continent. Unsurprisingly, his name appeared in 2016 on the lists of Africa’s 30 most promising young entrepreneurs and the continent’s 100 most influential.
Mhuriro had already shaped the project on which he has now focused his efforts for three years, Oxygen Africa. The company is trying to find its way in its country in a market that still has a long way to go in this region of the planet: the development and extension of solar photovoltaic installations on a commercial scale.
With this horizon fixed, the company founded and managed by this young man is promoting a project which, once launched, will prevent around 30,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. For that, Oxygen Africa is working on an off-grid photovoltaic installation up to 20 MW, which will be deployed in the commercial and industrial buildings of Old Mutual Zimbabwe, the country’s leading real estate investment group. With an expected cost of $ 28 million and the participation, among others, of specialized American and German firms, this project could result in 32 GWh of energy generated by the sun.
But why did you choose clean energy as the focus of your business project? As he explains in an interview with ForbesHe did it a little outside the trade criteria and another out of the conviction that Africa needs a boost in this regard. Regarding the first, Simbarashe Mhuriro reveals that in the early stages of his business idea, he was looking for a product that was consumed where it is produced, that was needed in all walks of life and that was accessible, among others. criteria. “Solar energy fits this description”he admits.
However, his bet goes beyond mere commercial viability. If the trend continues, by 2030 43% of the African population will not have access to electricity and 56% will not have adequate cooking facilities. The data is underlined by this entrepreneur before revealing that this reality, “It deprives the majority of the population of the opportunity to fight for a healthy and productive life”, is one of the main reasons you chose to get into renewable energy.
In addition, it ensures, through them, the attraction of foreign investment can be promoted, in addition to reducing the expenditure of African countries in energy imports. “The economy cannot grow without a sustainable and reliable source of energy”said the young man, whose ambitious project with Old Mutual, which will begin with a pilot in six buildings in Harare, has received nearly $ 1 million in aid from the African Development Bank.
This further confirms that the potential to continue exploring in the line in which Mhuriro is doing remains in Africa. Thus, according to the entrepreneur, when it comes to the sun, resources are not lacking: 80% of the continent receives neither more nor less than 2000 kWh per square meter. However, the possibilities do not end there since data from the African Bank indicates a potential of up to 1,750 TWh in hydropower and around 9,000 MW in geothermal energy.