Letter 3 From A Solar Power Entrepreneur In Nigeria

Letter 3 From A Solar Power Entrepreneur In Nigeria

Christopher1Christopher J. Onwuasoanya, a former JP Morgan senior employee who resides in the USA, now the founder and President of Atlantic Waste and Power System writes regularly for Africa Business Jumpstart about his entrepreneurial journey to becoming a solar power entrepreneur in Nigeria, which he started in 2013. In his very first article, ‘Africa Entrepreneur Insights – Nigeria: The Steps I Took To Start A Solar Power Business, Christopher  described the early steps and challenges he faced setting up a new business in Nigeria. In June we received Letter 2 with more updates and impressions regarding his business start up. Great to get another letter from his trip to Nigeria, I am very grateful that Christopher allows us to follow his entrepreneurial journey, so others can learn and feel inspired. Here is letter number 3!

It has been a while since I last wrote you. We had had another exciting trip to Nigeria. I arrived back in New Jersey and I can tell you tales.
Our two biggest challenges have been finances and logistics.
When you start a venture such as ours it pays to have faith and access to money. We can’t seem to borrow enough. We have been fortunate to tap into family so far. We might be hitting a turning point where sales can sustain the venture and cover expenses sometime this month or next.
Logistics. Our experience with clearing agents have been a nightmare. We are thankful that we have places to live in while we wait. We have spent money and lost a lot of time waiting for goods to be delivered. We have decided to purchase as much as we can locally and fly the rest of the components in. More expensive but allows us to meet our installation targets.
Local transportation. We have been fortunate that most of our installations have been in Abia and Rivers State. Even that has been a challenge. If you hire commercial vans, the Police, the army and everyone stops you and expect a bribe. One of our vehicles was stopped while transporting goods from Lagos to Abia and was detained due to waybill that the officer believed was altered. These add to our costs. The vehicles we use daily are not new most are past their expiration date. We had mechanical issues that slowed down our progress. They also cost quite a bit. N9000 (US$54) per day starts to add up. We hope to have the finances to purchase our own vehicle some time next quarter.
Overall the experience has been great. We took on a job for which we accepted only partial payment, we delivered and have still to be paid the balance. But it has opened doors and granted us access to a state that we had no way of entering so far. We have hired an intern to cover us there.
You must supervise the work your employees do. They can’t think out of the box most of the time and the solutions they propose can be disastrous. It helps to be an expert yourself.
Nigeria and the solar market are a blessing to an entrepreneur that is patient and knows his craft. A lot of people sell ‘solar’ but very few understand it. I bid against another supplier. I was N600000 (US$3,630) more expensive and I won the bid. The reason given was that I spoke authoritatively about the subject. They felt more comfortable going with me. This client is a large real estate developer in Lekki and Abuja. If we do good work he will refer more customers and clients.
We are changing the landscape by being responsive and offering support customers are unaccustomed to. Our initial installations were unfortunately sub par in performance. We replaced all at our expense. We make service calls within 24 hours of getting a call from a client.  That is an experience that they have not had. 
I am involved in the installation. I instruct my people every step and I do the connections and wiring myself. My customers are impressed and my employees are learning the right way things should be done.
The opportunity is there. I see the light already at the end of the tunnel. We have installed 9 systems and have orders for 3 more for November and anticipate that we will double that number when we go back to Nigeria.
I am still a firm believer in the opportunities that exist in Africa. Electricity is a necessity and I want to play my part in making it mundane.
African business solar power 2
Christopher during an installation in Nigeria

Thanks so much for this, Christopher, we wish you all the best!

If you need any adivice for your own solar power business plans in Africa, feel free to drop Christopher a line here (he follows and responds to comments), or if you are in need of solar power yourself and you live in Nigeria contact him – you will be in the best hands!


JumpStart Poster (red)


And still. Let’s be defined what dosage in this case approaches most of all. There can be it cialis 20mg or something another. To me I think it isn’t necessary to choose for you necessary. Think. Perhaps suits you cialis 20 mg It is much better.

Dr. Harnet
Dr. Harnet Bokrezion is the Founder of africajumpstart.com and co-author of the book '101 Ways to Make Money in Africa'. She coaches individuals and consults existing companies assisting them to make smart and strategic business decisions in Africa’s new emerging markets faster and more confidently. Dr. Harnet also regularly writes for the renowned DHL powered publication howwemadeitinafrica.com. Get in touch to inquire how she can be of assistance to your own Africa business endeavors: harnet@africajumpstart.com

User Comments ( 14 )

  • Kingsley

    Hello sir,

    please how can i be part of this. Do you have any training centre in port harcourt where one can get lectured about solar energy.

    • Hello Kingsley we don’t offer any training in PH yet. It is a potentially awesome market for us once we figure how to navigate arounf the traffic congestion that the city is notorious for.

  • Yisa ibrahim

    I am Nigeria, i want to venture on waste management business,i need a training from you.

    • Hello Yisa,
      Thank you for your comment. We don’t offer any training on Waste Management at the moment. Good luck it is a very lucrative field.

  • Tamara Prosper

    Hi Christopher,

    Well done for the good work and you are a great inspiration. The fact that you are willing to communicate your journey makes you stand out of the Nigerian mentality. I am really proud of you and wish you well in all your enderours and pray you will always be remembered for your input in nation building and soon become a household name in 9ja and beyond.

    I am a Nigerian lady (architect) living in the UK, but visit Nigeria regularly as I run architectural practise there. For some time now I have been thinking about the taking a step in solar power business at home, due to my cliental base.

    Any tips, especially being a Female? I.e completing a training here, partnering and importing the materials….. ? etc.
    Really looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards

    • Hello Tamara,
      I apologize for the late response. The first suggestion I will give you is to learn all that you can. The PV classes in the UK are subsidized relative to what we pay in the United States. Start with that and enroll in any communities that promote off grid living. Regarding importation, if you can make local purchases I will suggest that first. The high end inverters are available here. I import a product that not too many people sell. I use it to differentiate myself from the herd. You can send me an email and we can exchange numbers and have a private conversation as to other areas that might work

  • Bola Malik (MR)

    Sir, i thank God this morning reading about you on this blog. You know about the state our electricity supply in Nigeria that has remain comatos in years. As i am talking to you now it is over 3years that my local govt had electricity supply.
    Sir i love to go into solar power business on a different perspectiful.. Love to partiner with you. you can reach me via my mobile- 2348035399243: 23481559729. Thanks.

    • Good Morning Bola,
      Thank you for reading. You are on the right part. Reading this blog post tells us you are willing to play your part in making Nigeria better. We are not at the partnership stage yer. We will be conducting training sessions in the summer and you are welcome to participate.

  • i’am looking forward to getting more info.i work with an African own co.maybe I’ll run by my boss.it’s something I would like to get . thank’s.

    • Thank you for your comment. Please specify what you will like to know and I will be happy to assist you.


    Hello sir, i was happy to come across your blog i was wondering whether u teach how to build solar panel from the scratch. Because import could be alot of cost on low income earns and also when those your training start.

    • Ewere,
      Thank you for taking time to read this post. Building panels from scratch make very little economic sense. You will be buying the wafers from the same group of people the larger manufacturers purchase it from. Because of economies of scale they can produce it at a much lower cost than you. There are components we would love to manufacture in Nigeria. Combiner boxes are the first example. As we settle in we will make them. Thank you for your time and comment

  • Kingsley Obinna

    I sell brand new deep cycle batteries, model; Storace SRG100-12, 100Ah 12v @ 20,000 naira.
    I sell 240w solar panels. These are monocrystaline made by solartech in China. I sell @ 50,000 naira.
    I also sell brand new Mppt Tracer 1210Rn charge controller, 12v/24 10A @ 9,000 naira.
    In case you need any, you can reach me on; 08122423549, or email me @ kingsleyobinna26@yahoo.Com

    • Thank you for your message. We have suppliers we purchase panels from at very competitive prices. We prefer Outback and Midnite Solar Charge controllers. Our field experiences with other (Chinese) brands has been very bad. Batteries are expensive and need to be properly charged.
      Thank you for your email