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Algerian Clean Energy (ACE) powers ahead with installing solar power systems in Sahara

We are a social enterprise that provides installations of residential solar photovoltaic system in areas that do not have access to electricity.

Sixty kilometers from the capital of Algeria in Bordj Menaïel, lives Walid Amrous. During his search for work after his studies, he travelled far to find a job, as far as to the Sahara. He catched sight of more than 30-40 cities that did not have any electricity at their home and wondered how he could make this available to them. Due to his background as an engineer in renewable energy, he thought about autonomous solar systems and irrigation water pump installations that could generate energy. He went back home and put this idea on paper. In 2021, he participated in the Orange Corners Algeria programme, enabling him to transform his idea to a startup. OCHQ interviewed Walid to know more about ACE. 

ACE stands for courage, resistance and viability.

What drove you to launch your own startup? 

“I always wanted to create an initiative on renewable energy as Algeria has an abundance of natural energy resources, such as solar energy from the sun. Social entrepreneurship is also not very popular in his country, so it was easy to penetrate the market with my idea. Participating in the Orange Corners programme and realising my idea was truly a dream coming true as it gave me the tools to do what I love most.  

What truly triggered me to create my startup was the lack of basic necessities in areas such as the Sahara. I love people, the environment, innovation and nature. By combining those elements, I enjoy what I do every day as I provide solutions for my community.”

We learned everything on entrepreneurship, from the financial side to marketing, whilst doing a lot of practical field training.

Could you tell us more about ACE? 

“We are a very close-knit team of four, tackling a social problem in the northern part of Africa. The startup’s name is ACE, which means Algerian Clean Energy. We are a social enterprise that provides installations of residential solar photovoltaic systems and irrigation water pumping installations to populations that do not have access to electricity and drinking water networks. We provide clean, non-exhaustible energy that is a better source of electricity than the main sources of energy in Algeria: crude oil (49.5 per cent) and natural gas (50.4 per cent). In today’s world, we need to find cleaner sources of energy and therefore ACE is a worthwhile initiative in North-Africa.”

“ACE also stands for courage, resistance and viability. In a deck of playing cards, the ace of spades is the highest and most valued card. When you ace someone, you do a great job. It refers to what our startup wants to achieve; delivering high-quality and excellent service, aiming to become the leader in renewable energy in Algeria in five years!”

What do you think of the Orange Corners Programme? 

“Our programme at ACSE, the local service provider in Algeria, officially ended this December. We learned everything on entrepreneurship, from the financial side to marketing, whilst doing a lot of practical field training. We were a cohort of fourteen entrepreneurs. Everyone dealt with a very defined problem, such as the environmental issues, renewable energy and recycling, all dedicated to creating social and environmental impact. 

Participating in this programme gave another dimension to our startup. Our objectives have improved since the incubation programme and we have a stronger network. We went from having 5 actionable goals for our startup to set and achieve more than 10! In five years, we hope that 70% of cities in the Sahara are connected to electricity because of our efforts!”

Participating in the Orange Corners programme and realising my idea was truly a dream coming true as it gave me the tools to do what I love most.  

Which challenges did you face in regard to your startup? 

“Implementing the solar systems panels is not very difficult as our team have the technical skills to install them. The only problems we face is receiving the systems which can be very pricey. Also at the beginning, I worked with people that didn’t trust me. Afterwards I realised that I only want to surround myself with the right people that motivate me, which really helped! Until now, we have finalised five projects, but we forecast to do more and more in the future!”

What truly triggered me to create my startup was the lack of basic necessities in areas such as the Sahara. I love people, the environment, innovation and nature. By combining those elements, I enjoy what I do every day as I provide solutions for my community.

Afterwards I realised that I only want to surround myself with the right people that can motivate me

What kind of advice would you give other entrepreneurs? 

“Don’t waste your time on people that don’t want to invest in you and your startup. There are other people that are willing to carry out your project and that have similar interest and have the same mindset as you.

Second tip: Try to make a plan how to materialise your dream. Follow concrete steps that can help with achieving your dream. Dreams do not need to stay dreams; it all starts with an achievable plan and people that can help you out! 

Third tip: read a lot of (entrepreneurial) books, to visualise what you can achieve. I finish a book every 20 days. The most recent book I am reading is Awaken the Giant Within from Tony Robbins, which helps to take control of your things that are in our circle of influence, such as your mental, physical and financial destiny. Never stop learning!”

In five years, we hope that 70% of cities in the Sahara are connected to electricity because of our efforts! 

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