Gaps In The Electric Grid Aside, African Economies Are On The Rise

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The African Development Bank Group recently wrapped up its 2017 annual meeting in Ahmedabad, India, with an optimistic assessment of the country’s progress made in improving agriculture and ending hunger and poverty.

The group also noted its funding of the New Deal on Energy for Africa, a far-reaching partnership that aspires to bring electricity to the continent’s most remote areas by 2025.

Source: Access Power

Residents of Soroti, Uganda, celebrating completion of 10 megawatt solar farm.

It will be a big job. An astonishing 1.5 billion people—more than one-fifth of the world’s population—do not have any access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. Another billion live with unpredictable electrical service.

While the African Development Bank Group has committed to investing US$12 billion in electrical projects during the next four years and will leverage an expected US$45–US$50 billion in cofinancing for power plants, the group lamented the lack of bankable projects in the pipeline.

That’s where Access Power comes in. The company is a fast-growing developer, owner, and operator of power plants in emerging and frontier markets. Access Power is developing power projects worth more than US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia.

Why has the company embraced this critical yet very challenging mission? Because “sustainable power is the future,” said Umair Junaid, Access Power’s head of accounting and control.

“Children in schools need light to study; doctors in hospitals need to monitor patients’ vital signs. And all people need regular access to information but they don’t have the electricity to run TVs or laptops,” he said.

By generating sustainable power, Access Power can make the necessities of modern life possible, from clean drinking water and sanitation, to the production of food and a safe way to cook it, to transportation and telecommunication.

“Providing electricity for households and local businesses is the key to alleviating poverty and reducing wealth inequality,” Junaid said.

Harnessing Renewable Energy from Africa to Asia

Access Power’s first project, a solar farm in the rural village of Soroti in Uganda, generates 10 megawatts of power and is the largest solar power plant in east Africa.

In addition to creating jobs for local people who build and run the power plants, the company, through its Access Foundation, is providing additional support to residents living near its Soroti solar facility. For example, the foundation gave solar lanterns to children attending the Opuyo primary school so they can light their homes, and distributed 2,000 orange, mango, and pine tree seedlings to residents of the Alaki and Omuron villages.

Access Power will soon begin building two more solar farms in the Benban region of Egypt. The area offers large stretches of open land and abundant sunshine, ideal for solar plants, each of which will contribute 63 megawatts of clean and reliable electricity to the local power grid.

The company is also engaged in long-term studies of the wind patterns across selected areas of Africa and Asia to determine if the air currents are strong enough to support electricity-generating wind turbines.

Choosing Cloud Computing

With a full slate of planned projects in locations half a world away from its Dubai headquarters, Access Power began to consider a move to cloud computing.

“With our company growing so fast, rather than maintaining a full department of servers and infrastructure, we felt it would be better to move to the cloud. Cloud computing is so easy and convenient, affordable, and much more secure. And we can access Oracle’s cloud services from anywhere in the world,” Junaid explained.

Junaid was particularly interested in Oracle ERP Cloud, which allows him to centrally manage the different tax, accounting, and reporting requirements in the many countries where the company plans to do business. The leadership team decided to move to the cloud in 2015, and had Oracle ERP Cloud up and running at headquarters in just three months.

Three Reasons to Like ERP Cloud

Junaid especially appreciates the ability to instantly view the costs and financial transactions for each project, with the assurance that the numbers are accurate. Second, he uses built-in analytical tools to gauge the financial performance of suppliers and the payment history of customers. The easy-to-understand data dashboards help the company’s board members follow the company’s progress at monthly meetings.

Finally, Oracle ERP Cloud offers the scalability Access Power will need to provide electricity to more and more communities, while tracking costs, expenses, and profitability, and working within a strict budget.

“Oracle ERP Cloud helps me collect and analyze financial information in ways that make it much more meaningful for me and for my business,” he said. “I never imagined we’d be able to bring electricity to such remote areas. But new technology is becoming more affordable and we are gaining access. We are able to change lives,” he said.

Linda Currey Post covers science and technology advances as a senior writer at Oracle.

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