15 Feb African Growth
I am wrapping up 10 days in Kenya–a place where I have lived and visited many times. And what a place! From the international news you would think people are running through the streets with crowbars and home-made guns in a full atmosphere of tear gas! The reality instead is a country bent on growth and overcoming its challenges. It is the Wild West, but the Wild West is growing like mad.
East Africa is my special place. You would be hard pressed to find more diverse lands–from bone dry deserts to lush forests, tea plantations, cashew farms, greenhouses full of roses bound for Europe, coffee plantations, vanilla, timber, and on and on. The cities are still raw. They have a beauty of colours and peoples–real diversity–but they are not scrubbed and sanitised in all sectors for tour buses stopping for the usual Disneyfied travel experience we have sometimes come to expect. Of course there is real luxury now and mind blowing money being thrown about in places, but that is not the character of the place. It is markets and bustle and deals.
Making an impact
Our firm is out and about. Greenstorc is engaged from Wajir to Nairobi and well beyond. We are in advanced discussions to power large health clinics, really hospitals, across a range of areas with our shallow geothermal solutions–which is needed for 24/7 capabilities. We are especially pleased to be formulating and planning several diesel replacement installations. We plan on being the diesel generator killers! These machines are dirty and expensive. For remote sites, they used to be the only solution. Now we have the capacity to cut costs, match or beat performance and clean up the facilities. We take pleasure in turning them off.
There are growing vast food security farms of the government–400,000 acres! And we have a role driving borehole production with combined solar/ORC systems or simpler solutions. We are also in advanced discussions about powering Africa’s endless appetite for cell towers–in some of the remotest of places. Powering these is a serious challenge and we have the solution. Cell phones are the main way business is done in Africa–it is a money holder and a true personal business machine. It is ironic that some of the most sophisticated users of cell technology are Africa’s masses.
In the rifts of Uganda, we are looking at large scale power production that our competitors cannot touch–they simply cannot drive their production temperatures low enough. We can. There are so many applications to solve here! Pumping water to thirsty desert communities, desalination of wells, all manner of infrastructure growth projects. It is truly amazing what is going on in Africa–and Kenya is a leader. Methane to energy is a vast problem down here and again, we are making proposals to anaerobically digest biomass into methane and then make power from that gas flow with our ORC engines.
None of this would be possible without trust. Trust comes from our team on the ground here in East Africa, which I think is the very best. We talk to people. We give away solutions ideas without the technology equivalent of click-bait attached. People here want what they want everywhere–a reliable partner willing to have skin in the game. We solve first and ask for contracts second. If they go to others–that is fine. We know at least the problem is getting addressed. But more often than not loyalty is repaid with loyalty. For all the talk of corruption and Zuma’s etc., we see a nation trying to get on with fixing things.
I want to talk about my team in depth soon–to their embarrassment. But it needs to be done. Down here they are working magic–Kenyans building Kenya. We talk to governors and permanent secretaries it is true, but we also talk to small business owners and NGOs. We have discussions with private equity and large foundations, but we are also staying in the spaces where the middle class live and work–with sporadic water supply and spotty electricity outputs at times. It is part of trust. If you want to do business in Africa, get out with the people and see how they live. It cannot be done from the Hilton.