[Startup Interview] Wolf-Dietrich Fugger, Co-Founder, EWIA Green investments, Germany
EWIA Green investments is a renewable energy company based in Germany with an office in Ghana. Through Solar-as-a-Service model the company sells photovoltaic systems to commercial and industrial customers in form of leasing by taking over the planning, financing, construction and maintenance. It’s Co-founder and CEO Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Fugger explains.
Tell us about your company
EWIA Green investments GmbH is a professional and independent Investment and consulting Company for C&I companies in Africa. We provide African companies with access to clean, sustainable power supply.
Based in Munich, Germany with a local office in Accra Ghana, EWIA enables the financing, construction and operation of high quality, photovoltaic systems with batteries.
Together with German and international investors and in cooperation with local technology partners in Ghana, EWIA Green Investments offers fully financed solar power solutions & services for commercial and industrial clients in Ghana. Our technology partners have many years of international experience in the industry.
Customers are commercial and industrial businesses with high power consumption. Target customers have a power usage between 20 kWp and 1 MWp or even more. Furthermore they must be able to repay the leasing rate in either USD or EUR.
EWIA offers green and economically viable energy supply for grid connected off takers with high power consumption such as hotels, production facilities, food processing and beverage industry, hospitals, banks, offices, storage and logistic among others and off grid photovoltaic hybrid systems (with batteries) for the oil & gas and mining industry.
Who are the founders and what are their professional backgrounds?
The company was founded by Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Fugger, Ralph Schneider and Timo ASchäfer.
Ralph Schneider is an investment banker with nearly 18 years of experience in working for different solar companies in different countries including 4 years working experience as founding partner and Managing Director for a solar company in Ghana.
Timo Schnieder has more than 10 years of experience in international project management, controlling and business development. At GIZ Germany Timo was a business consultant in the field of financial system development for four years. One of his consultancies was to advise the Credit Union Association of Ghana.
Dr. Fugger has a PhD degree as engineer in Agriculture and has worked in several international agricultural projects in Africa. He also has about 20 years of experience in corporate finance and M&A (buy- and sell side).
How is your company financed?
By the owners and one private investor
Why did you start EWIA Green Investments? What opportunities did you see?
We are an early mover in Ghana and a first mover in the surrounding countries of Ghana. The markets in Africa are open and C&I companies are looking seriously for financing possibilities for solar solutions. In Ghana we have strong access to the markets and have a large pipeline of about 60 projects. We are in the last stage of negotiations for a project in Burkina Faso worth about $1 million.
What problem or problems does EWIA Green Investments solve?
Our main aim is, to help Ghanaian businesses and industries access affordable green electricity. Customers are commercial and industrial (C&I) businesses.
Our solution as Solar-as-a-Service seeks to sell solar roof systems to commercial and industrial customers in the form of leasing. This means that we take over the planning, financing, construction and maintenance. The advantage for our customers is that there are no investment costs and no additional running costs, because their savings in electricity costs cover the monthly leasing instalment and after 7-12 years the customers own their solar roof system.
What gives EWIA Green Investments the competitive edge?
As a one-stop supplier EWIA enables the financing, development, engineering, construction and operation of high quality, photovoltaic systems for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers in Africa, from one provider.
Who are your customers?
Potential target customers are medium-sized industrial and commercial enterprises with high electricity consumption, with a good credit rating and payment morale. Target companies are also active in the mining, cement and construction industries. Due to the high electricity prices and high costs for the operation of diesel generators, it is worthwhile for these companies to switch to solar power.
In Ghana there are over 5,000 potential customers in this segment (projects with about 700 MW). Hospitals, universities and other institutions are also to be equipped with PV systems in order to increase security of supply.
What in your opinion are the dynamics that have shaped the renewable energy sector?
Solar power is the cheapest way to produce Energy. In Africa particularly, solar power helps C&I companies to produce their own green energy and thus be independent of high energy prices that come with using electricity from the grid or produced by diesel generators.
What does your company need in order to grow?
What is your growth strategy?
We have the highest level of access to the different industries in Ghana and the surrounding countries, as well as in Kenya and Cameroon. In addition to our sales team we build a network of agents (solar companies, financial advisers, etc.) in each country.
In which markets are you looking to establish your presence?
Our roll out strategy is from Ghana expanding to the neighboring countries and to Kenya and Cameroon.
What are your plans for the coming 12 months?
Getting the first Projects in Ghana and Burkina Faso done after lifting the current travel restrictions and opening the borders.
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