For Francis Akuamoah Boateng, there could be no better time in history than now to establish Ghana’s first solar panel factory. In international circles and the energy industry, there has been a consensus for a shift to solar energy as thermal and coal energies have not only proven to be costly but contribute to pollution.
Boateng’s solar factory, Solar Power Solutions (SPS), was constructed in 2016 at the cost of $50 million and produces all manner of solar electronics. Offering solar-powered solutions, it supplies and installs “off-grid and grid systems, photovoltaic systems and PV street lights.” The Ghanaian business mogul says his solar company was born out of his vision to light up the country as the nation could no longer depend on hydro and other gas plants for energy.
Born to a paramount chief in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana, Boateng said he saw his dreams and opportunity to make it in life right in Ghana.
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For him, traveling outside Ghana to seek greener pastures was not something he entertained. “I never thought of leaving Ghana, it was something out of the equation for me,” he said.
On why he decided to venture into solar energy, he recalled traveling to his hometown in the Bono region and nearly hitting someone at a checkpoint because the place was dark due to lack of streetlight. “So I said to myself, ‘why can’t we have lights around and then I remembered that the national grid cannot extend to those areas,’” he told vlogger Wode Maya.
“So the concept of solar energy came to mind and that is how I started.” He added that he was also driven by his passion to ensure the rural areas of Ghana have light, a basic social commodity in the 21st century.
Fortunately for Boateng, the Ghana Cocoa Board also came up with a similar concept to start introducing solar street lights in cocoa-growing areas and shea nut catchment areas in the north of Ghana.
Initially, Boateng imported his solar panels from China and other countries but with time, he decided that it was time to have them produced locally and produced in such a way that it is suitable for Africa.
SPS is now managed by Boateng’s son Ofori, who was raised in both Ghana and U.S. Ofori told Wode Maya that SPS’s solar panels are designed for Africa and made in Ghana. “We are trying to push [ourselves] into the arena of being one of the product developers within the electronics,” he said, adding that they seek to expand the factory to increase production capacity due to both local and international demands.
He indicated that the entire company’s capacity is 32 megawatts and will expand to hit 150 megawatts soon.
For young Africans outside the continent and other entrepreneurs, Boateng has a message for you: “Don’t give up.” According to him, hard work is a key ingredient to success in life. “And when you lay your hands on something you think you can do, just go all out,” he said.