Africa's solar market still 'a blue ocean'

By Adva Saldinger 27 October 2015

WakaWaka’s co-founder and CEO Camille van Gestel talks new business models and prospects for growth with Devex Impact associate editor Adva Saldinger.

Despite a growing number of companies emerging in the solar power market in Africa, they still only serve a small percentage of the population.

“It’s still basically a blue ocean, our main competitor we see is the kerosene lantern lamp still and the candle and the battery-powered torch, that is what we are competing with,” said Camille van Gestel, co-founder and CEO of WakaWaka, a solar power company.

WakaWaka’s philosophy is that the cheapest product is not always the best — its product costs $80 but will last longer than many cheaper solar lights on the market, van Gestel said.

Where innovation is important is in pricing models and that’s where WakaWaka has been focusing — it is working on a microfinance model in Rwanda where consumers can buy a scratch card and text for service to pay for light at 75 cents per week.

To learn more about WakaWaka’s work watch the video above and to learn more about the solar power market in Africa, read this article.

To read additional content on innovation, go to Focus On: Innovation in partnership with Philips.

About the author

Adva Saldinger@AdvaSal

As a Devex Impact associate editor, Adva leads coverage of the intersection of business and international development. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, she enjoys exploring the role the private sector and private capital play in development. Previously, she has worked as a reporter at newspapers in both the U.S. and South Africa. Most recently, she has been ghostwriting a memoir for a former child slave and NGO founder in Ghana.

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