Entrepreneur seeks financial help to champion use of renewable energy in Africa

Mr Cedrick Todwell, A Kenyan entrepreneur who won this years' Changemakers Award - Photo/Hellen Tomia?County Guardian News


By Hellen Tomia

A Kenyan entrepreneur who won this years’ Changemakers Award, is seeking partnership from banks and companies in championing for the use of renewable bio energy in Africa.

Cedrick Todwell took the award on October 20 this year in Johannesburg, South Africa where his efforts in championing the use of biogas were recognized.

Through his company Sistema Bio, he has actively sensitized communities to promote the use of biogas and organic fertilizers, which apart from being cheap is environmental friendly.

Todwell together with Sistema Bio founder Alex Eaton has within a year supplied bio digesters to over 2000 families across Nairobi, Kiambu, Kericho, Meru and Eldoret counties.

He was the youngest Kenyan among other young innovators, political leaders and economists who were feted in an event that brought together approximately 150 global business leaders.

The Sistema technology includes anaerobic reactor, inlet of 200L, fertilizer outlet and storage, cook stove; 35 metres gas line, H2S filter, pressure relief valve, two water tramps, and protective geotextile.

For the smallest unit (Sistema 6) a person is required to pay deposit of Sh7790 with 12 equal installments of Sh4, 443.

Price varies depending on size but a customer gets some discount when buying on cash.

“Our product comes with a 10 year warranty and we offer after sale services. For example after installation we visit a farmer after 30 days, second visit after 90 days and third visit after 120 days to ensure the system is working well for the benefit of the client,” he said.

The farmer is only required to pay 20 per cent of the total amount for the bio digester to be installed and then the remaining amount is paid in installments for 12 months. The farmer pays for the amount in installments without being charged interest.

He is now seeking partnerships with banks, agro vet dealers, Saccos and co-operatives to help achieve its target of selling more than 20,000 units in two years.

The company has been sensitizing communities living around key forests on matters regarding conservation by encouraging them to use biogas as the residue of the bio digester is used as organic fertilizer.

The new bio digester is environment friendly and comes at a time when the Government of Kenya is planning on how to encourage households shift from over relying on kerosene and firewood for cooking, to gas.

Kenya biogas program, a government agency has been supporting the company through the SNV program that offers farmers a subsidy of Sh9000 per unit.

It has as well helped in terms of market access and quality control. Kiva Kenya has also been supporting the bio digester project by ensuring farmers don’t pay interest when acquiring Sistema. Bio products.

Most of the materials for the bio digester are imported from Mexico but tubes and connectors are obtained from local manufacturers. The major challenge is the very slow clearance of the containers at the port before the material is released for distribution and installation on farms.

“The major challenge we are facing is the very slow clearance process for containers at the Port which takes sometimes 8 weeks hence the burden of storage charges at the port warehouse,” said Todwell.

He said the government should ensure fast clearance of containers or else continuous delays will scare investors.