New deal lights up Kent firm’s future
Edenbridge-based Power for Africa, are now set for success worth millions of pounds across the entire continent with their innovative solar power system to provide electricity for communities that don’t have any.
Paul Mercer and his business partner Peter Bowers are the brains behind the firm. Having run businesses to provide portable power to caravans and motor-homes, alongside industrial electronics for ten years, their experience in mobile power is vast.
When Paul began to get a trickle of enquiries about their power inverter products, which convert battery power to mains electricity, from Africa through his website he decided, with help from UKTI, to visit Ghana to find out more.
“I went to Ghana with help from UKTI to meet with one of the people that had been buying the product to find out what they were using it for and discovered it was being used for back-up power in homes and small offices”
Paul, working with his Ghanaian distributor Gem Technologies, decided to create a specific power product for rural communities: An affordable and simple portable solar-powered system to provide small amounts of electricity for things like lights, a radio or TV and a fan, for four to six hours a day and that was totally rechargeable from the Sun.
“After designing and manufacturing the product, we set up a new company – Power for Africa LLP – a new brand developed specifically to sell our product in Africa.
“UKTI helped us to launch the product at the High Commission in Ghana, preparing the guest list, which comprised of some of the most influential people in Ghana including the Minister for Energy, multinational companies and the media.
“Our first big order was a direct result of the launch; £230,000 from our distributor in Ghana, Gem Technologies. This contract originated with the World Bank to bring power to 2,000 communities across the Golden Islands of Ghana; an area where there are no government plans to bring basic power.
“Obviously this has led to a lot of other opportunities and we now have interest from Nigeria, Angola, Uganda and other African countries.”
The firm expect this foray into Africa will lead to millions of pounds worth of opportunities.
“The three existing small-firms I run employ 12 people in Edenbridge, but we will be looking to employ more staff to help grow this new business.
“This is our first time exporting and we see these as extremely exciting times. Not only are there opportunities working for the different African governments but also on different corporate social responsibility projects for major PLCs.
“Bringing power to the people is what we do and to be able to have such an immediate and clear benefit to the lives of people across Ghana has been inspiring.”
Terry Dunk, International Trade Advisor for UKTI South East has worked with Paul since October 2011 on the Passport to Export programme. He said:
“Having seen this solar generating system develop from a concept, to something that could change the lives of many thousands, and possibly millions of people around the developing world, is humbling. There has been tremendous support by the UKTI team in Ghana, ensuring the launch was a success, and this has been critical to opening up many other opportunities for Power for Africa.”
If you are based in the South East region and are interested in developing your business overseas please contact:
UKTI South East International Trade Team
Tel: +44 (0)8452 789 600