This is the first RIWIK News Letter. After our successful trip to Kenya during the month of May, we thought it would be good to give you a general update of our status. First of all we want to thank all people in Kenya and The Netherlands who were willing to talk with us. Your contribution is very valuable for us.
Our ‘Jua Kali’ office in Nairobi.
The basic concept is standing strong
After more than a year we were curious to see how our discussion partners in Kenya would react. We are happy to conclude that our basic concept gets very enthusiastic reactions from almost all parties we met. The concept is to facilitate the production of small wind turbines by local entrepreneurs for their local markets of families and small and micro enterprises. It is not surprising that we found a lot of useful information to detail our business concept. We are very grateful that so many people took the time and energy to talk with us, assist us and indeed proposed concrete assistance and future partnerships.
We need hassle free quality. Our stay in Naro Moru, where the first turbines are operational, showed us that the electronics are the weak parts of the current setup. All mechanical parts can be produced and maintained by local people, but the electronic parts (charge controller and inverter) need to be simple and hassle free. Most problems were in the electronics and no deep know how is available to understand and repair the faults. (By the way, the same goes for many solar systems, where the supplier is often far away; systems are often not working.)
Dalton, our partner in Naro Moru.
We have a much better understanding of the market. A key finding is that also many people who are connected to the grid want a backup facility. The grid shows many outages and the electricity bill is getting higher and higher since the hydroelectric power generation suffers from continuous low rainfall. We collected valuable market information, but we want to go into more specific research. We have some partners who are ready to assist us. We collected information about the availability and prices of the different materials and components of the small wind turbine. We found that more than 3 expected components have to be imported. We will investigate which components we probably can produce ourselves locally. Thanks to the support from a few people, we were able to investigate all formalities related to start up a business in Kenya. This varies from starting a legal entity, getting work permits and hiring people to the required permissions from the Kenya Bureau of Standards. In the area of financing we found, with the assistance of a major partner, that money is available in the public domain, but a condition to get it is around 50% private money.
Next steps: study and finance
Directly after our return, Bart started to write a proposal paper for his master thesis at the Technical University Delft. Last Friday, 17 June 2011, he got green light to continue as proposed. He will put less focus on the technical efficiency of the turbine and more on the ‘hassle free’ quality of the product. Apart from components, a training and manual will play an important role. Based on our findings and the main components of Bart’s redesign, we can now recalculate our financing needs. Based on the first calculations we expect no big difference from earlier communication. Our current insight is that with € 75000,- private money we should be able to reach ‘break even’ in three years. It is still our goal to start operational activities in Kenya at the end of this year or early next year. After all the talks and studies we are eager to start the ‘real’ work.