Rolf Papsdorf: Powering rural Africa

Rolf Papsdorf: Powering rural Africa

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

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Rolf Papsdorf is bringing green power to the people of Africa. Thanks to the Silicon Valley based Tech Awards 2009, the rest of the world is hearing about it. His company Alternative Energy Development Corporation manufactures zinc-air fuel cells to generate off the grid electricity for rural communities. His zinc-air fuel cell project, described as the largest in the world,  brings light and energy to the village of Guyuni in South Africa, as well as job creation and online education to the community’s youth.

This project echoes – in a small way – the aims of Bloom Energy’s KR Sridhar, who aims to bring Power to the People with its fuel cell design.

On the fuel cells technology

“We’re the only company in the world which produces a low cost zinc-air fuel cells manually rechargeable…we’re proud to say that we have no carbon footprint and are totally renewable. We recycle the zinc oxide to make new zinc using solar energy.”

On how he’s empowering South Africa

“Our passion really is empowerment. We supply them with basic electricity, we have skills development programs so that they can earn an income…only 3% of (the community) income goes towards energy, the rest is disposable income.” Rolf Papsdorf

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