Young Motswana solar energy pioneer could scoop $5m in Finland

THAMAGA, Botswana, September 2019 – The world is your oyster metaphor will forever ring true for a young Motswana pacesetter, Bernard Sebakile who through his company, SAKAB Holdings recently won the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) competition dubbed Slush Pitch Competition 2019.

The competition had brought together innovators from across the country after his late entrant pitch of generating solar energy became victorious. The 21-year-old Thamaga bloke holds a certificate in Electrical Engineering (City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate technical) obtained in 2017 from Mogoditshane Technical College.

He will soon jet out of the country to Helsinki, Finland around mid-November where he is expected to join other innovators for the annual World Innovation Slush Pitching Competition. The competition is also a forum made of different countries where a member country should have an innovation hub, in the Botswana case, BIH is a representative. 

Slush is built for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. Whether you are looking for investors, customers, and media exposure or mentoring, slush offers a unique opportunity to reach the global audience and engage with the tech community. 

“Slush is designed for high-growth companies at all stages, and our offering for startups is tailored for young, often tech-driven, companies aiming for rapid growth with a scalable business model.”

Speaking exclusively to Botswana Unplugged, an excited Sebakile said the idea was to come up with a way on how to produce adequate electricity for Batswana through the use of greenhouse technology hence the Marang Solar Compact Generator and Marang Household Solar Generator were initiated. 

“Marang Solar Generators had the honor to be selected and shot its documentary by NU-GENERATION AFRICA broadcasted in different television channels such as ZBC, KWESE which helped with marketing. So I am going to this competition to pitch the idea to build Botswana’s first solar plant and to construct a 55 million watts/hour solar power plant by 2021 mainly in the Kgalagadi region which receives 27˚C /78.8 ˚F (heat wave) in average to supply the national electrical power grid. So my aim is to be in the top 20 in my category which according to statistics usually have 5000 entrants. I am confident that my pitch will succeed to get funding of US$5m (P54m).”

When Sebakile formed his company, he didn’t anticipate that he would receive lady luck in his innovations as his protégé company was only formed this year, 2019. 

“I just started entrepreneurship like any other start up with less funding. My company was established July 2017, and due to funds it was not functioning well as we dealt with small electrical engineering solutions and we specialize in electrical generation through solar. We supply, install and do maintenance of solar components such as solar lights, solar batteries, inverters, solar water pumps among others.” 

His first breakthrough came in August 2019 in Zimbabwe where he won a P20 000 tender to make a 3kv solar mini plant for JSI international at Braeside in Harare.

Notably to his invention’s importance, only 49% of Botswana is connected to electrical power grid, which leaves 51% of Batswana without access to electricity. Meanwhile in Finland, last year competition attracted about 3,141 startups from over 87 countries gathered at Slush to take their companies to the next level. Over 10,000 pre-booked investor–startup meetings, and thousands of other encounters took place during the Slush Week.

Among attendees will be Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Virgin founder Richard Branson among many leading world innovators. 

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Moagi Madisa

"Although journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information and also the product of these activities; for me its science - our sorroundings"

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BOTSWANAUNPLUGGED is an exclusive online news and lifestyle magazine created for upwardly mobile citizens with distinguished tastes. Based in Gaborone, Botswana; UNPLUGGED is a quintessential online news and lifestyle medium (platform) which strives to speak to the soul of the country’s upscale lifestyle by setting its sights on the passion that permeates our region.

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