Fluegelboten - Starting up Solar Power in Zimbabwe & Zambia

by Carlos Giron, Guatemala (PPRE 2015/17)

The master program in Oldenburg University is not only a great opportunity for academic, scientific or cultural enrichment, is also an occasion for worldwide networking and professional development. Together with other friends we recognize that after the PPRE/EUREC program, every door in the world is open for business. In our case we choose Zimbabwe and Zambia as our work hub, and we used our contacts in India, Germany, Brazil and Guatemala for procurement of the projects. Our start up is called Fluegelboten, and our main focus is the development of grid connected photovoltaic projects.

The idea of doing photovoltaic projects after the master program it was clear, however, the question is why Africa, why Zambia and Zimbabwe? It came to us through one of our colleges from Zimbabwe, who informed us about the energy situation. In summary the market is enormous and is open to private investments. These countries have a huge demand of energy and not enough generation, also their energy policies allow private investors to generate and sell energy for very good prices. Nevertheless, people from the west part of the world would say: but Zimbabwe’s political/economic situation is difficult and the local banking system doesn’t have liquidity, no one would invest there. But if you ask the same question in China or India, the answer would be contradictory. I.e, recently China invested several millions in the Airport at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. What we see in Fluegelboten is actually an opportunity, where we have less competition and is possible to obtain a big market share.

What we do in Fluegelboten is to locate suitable land for our projects, assess them and manage the licensing, PPA, and financing through international banks in India or China and private investors. We work with freelancers and most of them come from the PPRE/EUREC network from all over the world. Of course, we are aware that we will be investing our time and our money during the first 6 months, but the reward is worth it. We also opened the door to interns that would like to have experience in this field, and this help us to bring costs down. Other tip from the business model is to have a local partner with some contacts. If you believe you have a market and the local contacts, get some international partners from the PPRE/EUREC network and launch your start up project. There is a saying: you will never know if you can do it, till you try. And once again, after PPRE/EUREC the world is yours.

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