One of the major social and economic challenges confronting Nigeria is access to stable electricity. Millions of households in Nigeria do not have access to electricity and rely on generators to power their homes.
A Lagos-based company, QuadLoop, is hoping to curtail this through the provision of solar-powered lanterns made from electronic waste. The company focuses primarily on rural Nigeria.
“The power situation in Nigeria is one of the key things that motivated me to start this business. I started looking at energy products that will serve a percentage of the population. There is no way there can be electricity without electronics,” Dozie Igweilo, founder and chief executive officer of QuadLoop, told HowWeMadeItInAfrica.
“We have a lot of waste due to our population. And when you talk about waste, what comes to mind is plastic. But people ignore e-waste, which is probably the most hazardous because of the chemical component,” Igweilo added.
Igweilo has a degree in economics but he grew up loving electronics and engineering. His adventure of making a lantern from electronic waste started in 2016 after months of research on how to convert e-waste into electronic hardware.
In the first year of production, QuadLoop produced 40 units of rechargeable solar lanterns. In 2018, he got a $250 gift from his grandmother to support his production cost.
“I started small. The early days were like bootstrapping and doing R&D. At that point, I felt the product wasn’t developed enough to meet user needs and I had to return to the drawing board,” Igweilo said.
The target market of QuadLoop includes hospitals in rural areas and places that are off-grid or lack a constant power supply and the product costs around US$50 per unit. The company’s first product, which is a rechargeable lantern with batteries and frames, is called Idunnu. It means joy in the Yoruba language.
The batteries and frames are developed from electronic waste including discarded television screens and computer monitors. About 30% of the materials used for the lantern are however imported.
Igweilo said his journey has not always been rosy. According to him, funding was one of his biggest challenges as well as the lack of some raw materials such as batteries. In 2020, he got funding support from the Nigerian Climate Innovation Centre (NCIC) to start a full business operation after making his business a side hustle for some time.
Despite all the challenges, Igweilo hopes to expand to other countries. He plans to expand to Central Africa in countries that have almost the same power challenges as Nigeria.
“We are also looking at entering countries like Botswana and Rwanda. We met some people from these countries at an event in Abuja who showed interest in the product and want to partner with us,” he said.