Newcastle company Videre Global eyes up new opportunities during visit to South Africa

Newcastle solar energy company is set for huge expansion after finalising £229,000 order and making new high profile contacts

From left, Michael Williams, Andy Smith and Craig Morgan of Videre Global
From left, Michael Williams, Andy Smith and Craig Morgan of Videre Global

A Newcastle start-up focused on providing solar LED lighting to communities around the world has opened up a wealth of opportunities through a three-week visit to South Africa.

Videre Global, which has already attracted the support of leading business figures in the North East, produces both street lighting and home kits for people in areas with unreliable power supplies.

Beginning with Africa, the company has now finalised paperwork for a £229,000 order for its lights, distributors and delivery partners for which have been secured.

The recent visit, which included destinations such as Botswana and Johannesburg, has also allowed the firm to:

Find support among senior government ministers, while securing a high profile NGO as a partner;

Establish links with the chief executive of a copper mining corporation with a view to introducing the technology into that sector;

Enter discussions with the Ministry of Health about a pilot project bringing energy supplies to an off-grid clinic; and

Learn about new opportunities potentially opening up in Ghana.

A meeting with the European Union ambassador has also sparked talks about a project based on bringing power to 63 off-grid schools in Botswana.

Videre will be responsible for getting such projects started but would they would ultimately be handed over to residents of Botswana, who will take control of longer-term maintenance.

With the company looking to create a renewable energy ‘hub’ within the North East, universities from the region have already provided extensive guidance on how to proceed.

Narec (The National Energy Centre) in Blyth has also been involved, and will help provide a training scheme for those going on to use the technology. Videre’s Craig Morgan, would made the recent trip to South Africa with fellow-director Michael Williams, said: “At the moment, old outdated systems tend to be dumped on Africa, but we want to give them the proper solution that they require. The whole of the SADC region will be watching what we’re doing.

“We want to help Botswana become a renewable energy hub, so that others seeing what we’re doing will realise it’s amazing stuff and want to implement similar strategies in their countries.”

The problem of intermittent electricity supply is rife in South Africa due to the phenomenon known as ‘load shedding’ – in essence, conserving power through cutting it off in certain areas for several hours at a time. In some places, it is therefore common for schoolchildren to have nowhere to play or do their homework in the evenings.

Concerns over safety are also prevalent, as is disruption to businesses.

Word about Videre’s work is already spreading fast and, having made links with the Botswana International University of Science & Technolgoy, the company has been asked to provide the keynote speech at a conference in September.

“It’s taken us a few years to establish ourselves and become aware of what’s going on,” Mr Morgan said. “Now, though, it’s taken off and it’s just unbelievable.”

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