Dominic Adongo, 2017 LDI Africa Fellow, on supporting and expanding the burgeoning Zambian alternative energy industry.

My role in Emerging Cooking Solutions continues to be an exciting one, with a lot of impact and achievements. The month of August was a good one, as the company continues to grow and influence the Zambian population. There have been exciting developments such as the increase in sales, the acquisition of vehicles, and a new pellet factory.

 My role as a Fintech manager has been a wonderful experience. The task of managing every tech aspect of the business and help build a robust agent network of sales and payers for the business has been very exciting. The tech aspect has mainly been one of managing the company’s Angaza hub, which keeps a record of the entire customer and sellers database.

 I have had to work closely with the support team in Kenya to ensure timely changes and improvement to the portal month-to-month. Together with the company, we have outlined a greater number of expectations which we hope to see implemented in the system, and I am following up constantly to ensure these go live.

A new method of payment in the form of mobile money has fully replaced the cash collection and bank deposit method. This has improved the company’s ability to quickly collect and reconcile payments. Currently MTN mobile money is the main platform used, and Zamtel will soon be introduced. The benefit of this system has been enormous and praised by everyone in the company. 

In my role to help build the agent network, I have been extensively in the field helping to recruit super agents and agents to become resellers of our Home Energy Systems and pay points for customers. In the month of August I have traveled to the Copper Belt and the Central and Eastern Provinces to meet farmers, NGOs and opinion leaders. These trips have been instrumental in opening up new sales opportunities.

The idea is to extend the sales arm of the company by creating a network of sales representatives for each community in Zambia. These agents are provided materials and trained in sales, remuneration, payment methods, and the sales targets they are expected to meet.  They sign a reseller contract and become official Emerging Cooking Solutions agents.

My role in IT has afforded me the opportunity to manage the company’s IT equipment. I am now able to network systems, diagnose IT problems and manage data. Emerging Cooking Solutions has given me the hands-on experience necessary to acquire valuable IT skills.

My personal experience in Zambia continues to be an exciting one. Traveling around the country has given me a broader perspective of the whole country. I have experienced varying weather conditions and experienced different cultures. The weather on the Eastern side of the country tends to be very hot, while that of the Copper Belt, Central Province, and Lusaka is rather cool. There are however a few differences in the types of foods available, but most of them are made of maize.

My impression of Zambia continues to be very good. I have largely met wonderful people who are very hospitable and caring and quick to offer any help that is required. There was one instance where I travelled to the Copper Belt and arrived late at my location with no knowledge of a nearby guesthouse. A complete stranger came to my aid and drove me for close to thirty minutes in order to locate a good place to pass the night. 

I can attest to the benefit of fellowship programs like the Landmark Development Initiative. What remains is for greater opportunities to be made available to young and bright minds in the diaspora to come and serve on the continent. For example, companies like Emerging Cooking Solutions aims to curb deforestation through the introduction of pellets and gasifying stoves. This is a venture that will spread across the continent in a few years, and I foresee the need for even more skilled human capital in order to achieve these changes.

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Dominic Adongo is currently providing technical assistance to Emerging Cooking Solutions in Zambia as a 2017 LDI Africa Fellow.